How to Get a Voter Registration in California

Voter registration in California allows you to vote in primary or general elections, including national and California elections. A voter registration application must be filled out in order to become a registered voter. You have the option to register to vote through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Secretary of State. If using the DMV, an application to vote can be completed when using many other DMV services. A CA voter registration form can also be submitted directly to the Secretary of State if you prefer. You must register to vote at least 15 days before voting in an election. However, if you are a new CA resident, registering to vote may be possible if you have lived in the state for less than 15 days, provided that you have not already voted in the same election elsewhere in the U.S. In the sections below, find out everything you need to know about voter registration so you are ready to vote before the next election.

Eligibility Requirements for Voter Registration in California

Before registering to vote in California, you must meet several eligibility requirements. These voting registration requirements apply whether you use the DMV or apply directly through the Secretary of State. The voter registration requirements in California are:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You must reside in California.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age to register or at least 16 years of age to pre-register.
  • You cannot be a current inmate in a state or federal prison, or on parole as a convicted felon.
  • You must not be deemed mentally incompetent to vote by a court of law.

CA residents may pre-register to vote starting at 16 years of age. Applicants pre-registering to vote in CA must meet all of the requirements listed above. The applicant will only become eligible to vote when he or she turns 18 years of age.

How to Register to Vote Using the CA DMV

The California voter card registration process can be completed in several ways using the DMV. First, you may register to vote using a self-service terminal at a DMV office. To use the voter registration terminal, you will need to enter the same information you would enter on a paper registration form, such as your name, address, drivers license or ID card number and your Social Security Number. Your voting registration information will be electronically transferred to a local election office.

California voter registration forms can also be submitted on the DMV’s website. The DMV allows you to register to vote when renewing your drivers license or state ID card. If you select the box indicating you want to register to vote during an online DMV transaction, you will be directed to the California Secretary of State website. The voting registration form will automatically populate with the information from your drivers license, ID card or other DMV documents.

Registering to Vote in CA Through the Secretary of State Office

You may register to vote in California directly through the Secretary of State office. Registering to vote through the Secretary of State is a convenient option if you need to complete your voters registration but do not plan to use a DMV service soon. The Secretary of State office accepts online voter registration applications or paper applications. Download our complimentary guide to learn more about how to obtain a voter registration application.

If completing your California voter registration application using the Secretary of State website, you will need to enter your CA drivers license or ID card number, your Social Security Number and your birth date. Applying for CA voter registration online does not mean you are automatically registered. Your application will be processed, and you will receive a registration notification in the mail. If you do not hold a California identification card or drivers license, you can still use the online application system. When applying to vote without an ID card, you may need to complete an online interview or print the application form and send it by mail.

If you need to complete a California voter registration application fewer than 15 days before an election, you must appear in person at your county elections office. Registering to vote after the 15-day deadline is considered a conditional voter registration. During this process, you must fill out a voter registration card, which will be processed to determine your eligibility. You may not register less than seven days before an election.

Changing Voter Registration Information in CA

By law, your California voter registration address must be updated if you move to a new permanent address. If you have already registered to vote in CA, you can update your voter address when changing your address at the DMV. You must authorize the DMV to pass your new address on to the Secretary of State. Updating your voter registration information with the Secretary of State is your own responsibility if you do not authorize the DMV to do it for you. If you change your name with the DMV, you can also choose to update your voting information at the same time by giving the DMV your authorization.

To change the political party on your voter registration record, you must re-register to vote in California. The political party that you register to vote with may determine whether you can vote in certain primary elections. Your political preference is also used for statistical purposes by election offices. By re-registering to vote, you may change your political party at any time. When re-registering, you may choose any of the established political parties or register with the No Party Preference designation instead.