Voting Basics: Voters' Rights
- What Are My Rights as a Voter?
- What Are My Rights as a Voter with Disabilities?
- What Are My Rights as a Voter in Need of Language Assistance?
- What are my rights as a voter experiencing homelessness?
Under California’s Voter Bill of Rights, you have the following rights:
- The right to vote if you are a registered voter. You are eligible to vote if you are:
- a U.S. citizen living in California
- registered where you currently live
- at least 18 years old
- not in prison or on parole for a felony
- The right to vote if you are a registered voter even if your name is not on the list. You will vote using a provisional ballot. Your vote will be counted if elections officials determine that you are eligible to vote.
- The right to vote if you are still in line when the polls close.
- The right to cast a secret ballot without anyone bothering you or telling you how to vote.
- The right to get a new ballot if you have made a mistake, if you have not already cast your ballot. You can:
- Ask an elections official at a polling place for a new ballot; or
- Exchange your vote-by-mail ballot for a new one at an elections office, or at your polling place; or
- Vote using a provisional ballot, if you do not have your original vote-by-mail ballot.
- The right to get help casting your ballot from anyone you choose, except from your employer or union representative.
- The right to drop off your completed vote-by-mail ballot at any polling place in the county where you are registered to vote.
- The right to get election materials in a language other than English if enough people in your voting precinct speak that language.
- The right to ask questions to elections officials about election procedures and watch the election process. If the person you ask cannot answer your questions, they must send you to the right person for an answer. If you are disruptive, they can stop answering you.
- The right to report any illegal or fraudulent election activity to an elections official or the Secretary of State’s office.
If you believe you have been denied any of these rights, call the Secretary of State’s confidential toll-free voter hotline at 1 (800) 345-8683
State and federal laws require polling places to be physically accessible to voters with disabilities.
Voters with disabilities should have:
- Access to the polling place
- County elections officials inspect each site and often make temporary modifications to homes, libraries, churches, businesses, schools, or other facilities for Election Day.
- Poll workers are trained on election laws and the rights of voters with disabilities, including the need to make reasonable modifications of policies and procedures to ensure equal access.
- Before each election, every registered voter is notified whether their polling place is accessible. This notification appears on the Sample Ballot mailed to each voter by their county.
- Voting systems
- The California Secretary of State has approved several voting systems for use that allow voters with disabilities to cast their votes privately and independently.
- Each polling place must have one voting machine that allows voters, including those who are blind or visually impaired, to cast a ballot without assistance.
The voting machine permits voters to verify their choices and, if there is an error, allows them to correct those choices before submitting their final ballot.
- Poll workers must provide curbside voting for voters with disabilities who need this assistance.
- For more detailed information see Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Voters with Disabilities webpage.
You may be entitled to receive election materials in your preferred language. The Secretary of State has voter information available in English plus nine other languages available here.
Some polling places will have translated copies of the Official Ballot that voters can use as a reference tool when voting. The polling places that will have them are determined by the Secretary of State.
- To request a copy of the translated Official Ballot to be mailed or emailed to you, please call 510-272-6973. Requests must be received no later than 7 days before Election Day.
- If you are unable to mark your ballot, you may bring up to two individuals to the polling place to assist you. These individuals cannot be your employer or union representative.
Please see the Official Election Site of Alameda County for more information.
Persons experiencing homelessness can register and vote in all 50 states.
Homeless persons may register to vote as long as they maintain a fixed location where they can receive mail and at which they can be properly assigned to a voting precinct.
If you do not have a residential address to list, you can describe the place where you spend most of your time (for example using cross streets, a park or a local landmark). You must also list a mailing address where you can receive elections materials.