National Voter Registration Day: Here's how to register in California

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, a day created in 2012 to encourage Americans to make their voices heard on Election Day. 

More Americans are expected to vote by mail than ever before in the November 3 presidential election due to concerns over the coronavirus, according to an analysis from the New York Times.

This year's event took on more urgency as the nation's deep divisions seem more apparent and the politicized atmosphere becomes more intense.

Politicians, community organizations, labor unions, state and local officials and even celebrities are making a big push to get people registered. 

Each year, many Americans find themselves unable to cast their ballot because they either missed the voter registration deadline, failed to update their registration info, or didn't know how to register. 

Californians can register to vote online, by mail or in-person. The state will send mail-in ballots to every registered voter no later than 29 days before the election. 

Richmond Public Library held a voter registration drive on Tuesday afternoon.

"We settled on drive-through as being the safest way to get people to vote while maintaining social distancing," said Ozmar Huerta of the Richmond City Youth Council.

At the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, a video was produced by the public defender's office to inform incarcerated people that many are eligible to vote in the election.

"There's a lot of misinformation about [it] in the jail," said Sascha Atkina-Loria, a social worker at the Alameda County public defender's office. "If you're currently serving in prison you cannot vote, but if you're in jail serving a jail sentence or if you’re in jail for [a] conviction or felony, you can vote."

Across the Bay in San Francisco, union members registered janitors, a sector that members say has hard-hit by the pandemic due to lack of proper personal protective equipment. 

"This election year, COVID-19 is the center stage as to how will this administration handle the crisis, handle a pandemic?" said Olga Miranda.

Nationally, sportswear retailer Foot Locker used the day to announce that it's turning all of its more than 2,000 stores into temporary voter registration sites.

And online, Former First Lady Michelle Obama recruited some star power for her all-day streaming Instagram voter registration rally titled, "Get Registered & Ready."

To quantify the historic nature of this push, California registered 21 million people to vote, the highest rate since the election of 1940, reports Political Data, Inc.

Meanwhile, the key battleground states of Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania -- all states Trump picked up in 2016 -- have collectively added millions of new voters.

To be sure, voter registration numbers don't necessarily translate to votes. Younger voters tend to vote at lower rates than their older counterparts.

Republicans have also long had an edge over Democrats when it comes to turning out their voters.

Who Can Register to Vote in California?

  • U.S. citizen and resident of California
  • 18 years or older on election day
  • Not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony
  • Not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court

Check Registration Status 

If you want to check your registration status or confirm your address and other details click here. 

Registration Deadline

Californians who are registering or re-registering less than 15 days before an election will need to complete the Same-Day Voter Registration process and request a ballot in person at their county elections office or polling location. 

Those ballots will be processed and counted once the county elections office has finished the voter registration verification process.

What You Need to Register Online

  • Your California driver license or California identification card number,
  • The last four digits of your social security number and
  • Your date of birth.

Deadline to register online is Oct. 19.

Want to Register In-Person?

Pick up a paper application at any DMV field officer, most post offices, public libraries, government offices or request one from your county elections office. 

Deadline to register in-person is Nov. 3.

Register to Vote By Mail

To receive a voter registration application by mail, call the toll free Voter Hotline at (800)345-VOTE (8683). 

The returned application must be postmarked by Oct. 19.

County Elections Offices

To locate your county elections office click here.

Early Voting 

Some counties offer early voting at a few locations before Election Day, but you need to contact your county elections office