How to Vote in California’s 2022 Elections

Posted on 05/10/22 by Catherine Maddux

En español | California’s June 7 primary election will determine which candidates appear on November’s general election ballots for seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the state Senate and state Assembly, and the state Supreme Court, as well as the governorship and municipal offices. 

What's new this year?

The state's new redistricting plan has resulted in the loss of one congressional district and the redrawing of certain state legislative districts, which may change which candidates appear on your ballot.

Essential info:

  • Voting by mail: All registered voters can request a no-excuse mail-in ballot and vote from home for the primary and general election.
  • Early in-person voting: Some California counties offer early in-person voting up to 10 days before every election. Check with your county elections office to see if early in-person voting is an option.  
  • In-person voting on Election Day: The primary election is Tuesday, June 7; the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find your polling place online on the state elections website.

How do I register to vote?

  • Online: Use California’s online portal to register, check your registration status or change your party preference. Residents ages 16 and 17 can preregister to vote online. By doing so, they will be automatically registered upon their 18th birthday.
  • By mail and in person: You cannot download and print an online registration form from the California state elections website. But you can pick one up at your county elections office, most public libraries, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and U.S. post offices. Eligible residents will be automatically registered to vote while obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or vehicle registration unless they choose to opt out.
  • By phone or email: Call 800-345-8683 or send an email to the California Elections Division to have a registration form mailed to you. 
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The deadline to register for the June 7 primary election is May 23, and there’s an Oct. 24 deadline for the general election. Your completed applications must be postmarked or hand-delivered to your county elections office by those dates.

If you miss the deadline, you can register conditionally (also known as same-day registration) and vote at your county elections office, polling place or county vote center. Your ballot will be counted after your county elections office completes the voter registration verification process.

Does my party preference matter when I vote?

It depends. For many primary elections, including races for governor and other state constitutional offices, state legislative offices and U.S. congressional offices, voters use the same ballot, regardless of party preference. The top two vote-getters in each race then move on to the general election.

But for presidential, county central committee and local office races, a political party can choose to close its ballot, only allowing voters who share that political party preference to participate. Or, a party may have a “modified-closed” primary, in which voters without a party preference may participate.

In the general election, voters use the same ballot, irrespective of party preference. To learn more about this process, call the California election’s office at 800-345-8683 or visit the primary section on the state elections website.

How can I get a mail-in ballot? Are there important deadlines?

All registered voters will be sent a mail-in ballot by the state elections office no later than 29 days before Election Day, which is May 9 for the primary and Oct. 10 for the general election. If you don’t receive your mail-in ballot or have lost or damaged your ballot and are unable to vote in person at the polls, you can request a replacement mail-in ballot online, by phone or in person.

Completed mail-in ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than seven days after an election — June 14 for the primary and Nov. 15 for the general election. You can also drop off your mail-in ballot in person at any polling place, county vote center or ballot drop box, or at your county elections office between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Can I track my mail-in ballot?

Use the state election office’s online tool to track your ballot.

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

This depends on the county. If you live in a Voter’s Choice Act county, you may start in-person voting up to 10 days before an election at a local vote center. Locations can be found along with polling places on the state elections website. At these centers, voters can drop off their ballot in person, get a replacement ballot, cast a ballot with a voting machine, register to vote or update an existing registration, and find voting material in multiple languages. Contact your county elections office to find out if early in-person voting is available in your county.

Information about vote center locations and ballot drop boxes will be posted on the state elections website at least 30 days before the June 7 primary. Check back for updates.

When is Election Day? When are polls open?

The primary election is Tuesday, June 7; the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find your polling place online at the California elections website.

Do I need identification to vote at the polls?

Only those who didn’t provide a driver’s license number or state ID and/or the last four digits of your Social Security number while registering to vote online will need to show an approved form of ID on Election Day. Approved IDs include a state driver’s license, a U.S. passport, a state ID card, or a student identification card showing your name and photograph. A complete list of acceptable forms of ID is posted online at the state election’s website.

What races are on the ballot?

  • US Senate: Sen. Alex Padilla, appointed to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ senate seat in 2020, is running for a full term.
  • US House of Representatives: All 52 congressional seats
  • Governor
  • State Senate: 20 of 40 seats
  • State Assembly: All 80 seats
  • Attorney general
  • Other statewide offices, including lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller and treasurer

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on May 10 with information about the state's redistricting plan. The guide was first published on July 30, 2020. 

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