How to vote in California? CALmatters answers your questions

Q: Do I have to re-register for the midterms?

Probably not.

As long as you haven’t moved or legally changed your name since the last time you voted, you should be good to go.

But don’t just take our word for it. Check your registration status here.

If you do need to register again, you can send in an application online. You’ll hear from your county’s registrar of voters office when you’ve been approved. Do it by October 22, or else you’ll have to file for a conditional application in person at your county elections office.

Q: How do I change my political party if I’m already registered?

You’ll need to re-register. Do that here.

Again, do it by October 22, or you’ll have to file for a conditional application in person at your county elections office.

Q: If I am registered to vote already and want to vote by mail, do I need to register to vote by mail separately? 

When you registered to vote, you were given the chance to register as a permanent vote-by-mail voter. If you checked that box, then you can expect to get a ballot in your mailbox.

If not, you can re-register online or print and fill out this application and send it to your county elections office.

Q: If I am a Democrat am I only allowed to vote for Democratic candidates? If I am unaffiliated do I only get to choose one ballot, which is either Democrat or Republican?

No and no.

Vote for whoever you want to. Your party doesn’t matter. Neither do those of the candidates. You can vote for candidates of different parties across different races. It’s a free-for-all.

Q: What happens if my ballot gets lost in the mail?

The deadline to request a replacement ballot by mail is October 30.

After that, you still have options. You can go to your county elections office and request one in person. Find your office here. You can do that anytime between now and election day.

Likewise, if your county has early voting centers open (find out here), you can also request a new ballot there. And if you live in one of the “Voter Choice Act” counties (Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, and San Mateo), head on over to one of your new vote centers.

If you don’t have time to do any of that before November 6th, just go to your polling place on election day and request a provisional ballot there.

Q: What if I make a mistake on my ballot?

There’s no universally recognized way to correct a ballot, so just get yourself a new one. Bring your ballot to your local polling place on election day and request a replacement. Remember to bring that messed up ballot! They won’t let you vote in person if you leave it sitting on your coffee table.

We’re happy to answer your questions to help ensure that every eligible Californian who wants to vote knows how to do it.


See for yourself

Upcoming Dates


To General: November 6th, 2018



Until Election Day

November 6


October 30

Vote-by-mail request deadline

October 22

Voter registration deadline

August 15

Deadline for political parties to endorse

June 28

Deadline for ballot initiatives to be certified

June 19

Deadline for candidates to declare intention to run