Voter Registration Information
Voting can be confusing or difficult if you do not have the right information. Here are some answers to some common questions about voting:
Who is eligible to vote?
If you are at least 18 years old by Election Day (Nov. 8), and a U.S. citizen you are eligible to vote. Convicted felons currently serving a prison term or on parole are not eligible to register or vote.
How do I register to vote?
To register, you'll need a voter registration form - also called an affidavit. Get the form at your library or post office, or call 1-800-345-VOTE.
Many campaigns and political parties also send staff and volunteers out to register voters at malls and other public places. You may request a voter registration form from these people too. The law requires them to supply you with a form regardless of which political party you want to register under, so don't be misled by signs that say "Republicans Register Here" or "Democrats Register Here".
How Do I fill out the Registration Form?
The registration forms ask for basic information - your name, street address, mailing address (if different), birthdate, the county you reside in, and your place of birth (U.S. State or foreign country). The form also asks for your occupation and phone number. You are not required to provide this information, but a phone number will help your county clerk contact you if there are any problems with your form.
You will also be asked if you have been registered to vote in California before. This information helps the county clerks remove your old registration information and keeps our election rolls clean of "deadwood". If you have forgotten your previous address, or party affiliation, that's okay - just fill out this section of the form to the best of your ability.
BE SURE TO SIGN AND DATE YOUR FORM! County clerks cannot, and will not process registration forms that are not dated and signed.
There is a stub on the bottom of your form that serves as a receipt. You may want to hold onto this stub until you receive confirmation that you have been registered. The stub has a number on it that matches a number on your card, and can be used to track a lost or misplaced registration form.
How Do I know I've been Registered?
A few weeks after you mail in your form you will receive a postcard from
your clerk saying you've been registered. You do not need to bring this card
with you when you go to vote.
All registered voters receive a "Sample Ballot" from their county elections clerk, which shows what measures and candidates will appear on your ballot. It's a good idea to review your sample ballot before the election, make notes in it of your choices, and bring it with you when you go to vote.
Registered voters also receive a "Ballot Pamphlet" from the California Secretary of State. This booklet tells you about statewide candidates and ballot measures.
If you haven't received a Ballot Pamphlet or Sample Ballot, you may not be registered at your current address. Call your county clerk (look in the government pages of your phone book) and make sure you're registered to vote.
Do I have to join a political party?
On the voter registration form, you will be asked if you want to choose a political party. California has six qualified political parties:
* American Independent
* Peace and Freedom
Information about the platforms of these parties is available on this gopher in the "California Online Voter Guide" menu and in the "Easy Reader Voter Guide" menu.
You may choose from one of these six parties, or select "Decline to State", which essentially means you are an "independent". Or, you may select "Other" and choose or create a political party that is not an official party of California.
In the Fall General Election, you may vote for any candidate in any race, regardless of your political party affiliation. A Primary Election, however, is intended to allow members of political parties select their party nominees for the General election. In the Primary, you may only vote in contests between your party's candidates.
You may change your party affiliation at any time, but you must fill out a new registration form.
If I register to vote, does that mean I'll be called for Jury Duty?
No. This is a widely circulated myth. The truth is that juries are drawn from a variety of public records - primarily from DMV records.
Where do I go to Vote?
Your county "Sample Ballot" gives the location of your polling place. You can also call your clerk's office and ask for the location of your polling place.
Can I vote at home? What if I'm out of town on Election Day?
About twenty percent of California's voters cast "absentee" ballots, also known as "voting by mail". Anyone is eligible to vote by mail, but you must request an absentee ballot from your county clerk. Your county "Sample Ballot" will contain an absentee ballot request form, and many campaigns now mail request forms to voters as well.
An absentee ballot must be received by your county clerk by Election Day in order to be counted. You can mail in your absentee ballot, or return it in person to your county clerk's office. You can also return your absentee ballot to any polling place worker on Election Day.
return to the Easy Reader Voter Guide main page
return to the 1994 Online Voter Guide main page
The material included in this voter guide is archived and will not be updated. Please visit the California Voter Foundation's homepage for the most current information and resources.
© California Voter Foundation 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 & 1998