For millions of young adults, this will be their first time as eligible voters in a presidential election. This year, Gen Z will make up 1 in 10 of eligible voters. With the deadline to register to vote fast approaching on Oct. 19, here’s what you need to know to make your vote count on Nov. 3.

Who is eligible to vote:

You must be 18 years old by Nov. 3. If you are 16 or 17, you can pre-register so you’re ready to vote in the next election. You must be a U.S. citizen. People who are currently in prison or on parole for a felony conviction are prohibited from registering. Former felons may re-register to vote in California, but the laws vary by state. Click here for more information on voting rights for formerly incarcerated people.

What you will need:

A California address, a California driver’s license or the last four digits of your social security number. 

If you only have some or none of these, you can still register by filling out the form provided by the registration website and sending it to your county elections office. This office will confirm your eligibility and assign you a voter identification number.

Where to register:

You can register or check your registration through the state website. The registration form is available in 10 languages. You can also register at the DMV when applying for a driver’s license, or at your local election office.If you want to check your Santa Cruz registration, use the Elections Department’s portal.

Get your ballot:

All registered California voters will be sent a mail-in ballot on Oct. 5, which must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 or dropped at a polling location before 8 p.m. If your address has changed, you will need to re-register by Oct. 19 with your new address to receive your ballot.

Track Your Ballot:

Once you send in your ballot you can track it as it’s mailed, received, and counted.

Illustration by Isabel Tran.
Registration tips: 
  • Your party affiliation does not affect what you can vote for in the general election.  It does, however, affect how and for whom you can vote in the primaries.
  • Register and send ballots in early. Mail-in ballot volume is expected to be high this election year. To ensure your vote is counted, send your ballot in as soon as possible.
  • If you miss the Oct. 19 deadline, you can still register as a same-day voter on Nov. 3 and cast a provisional ballot.