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Who can and can't vote in a California election

Voting in California is a right held by the citizens and residents of California, however, there are circumstances that can disqualify someone from voting.

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Voting in California is a right held by the citizens and residents of California, however, there are circumstances that can disqualify someone from voting.

Having a criminal history might impact your right to vote. Those criminal histories will have to meet specific requirements to allow a person to vote.

Additionally, caveats apply to teenagers who are pre-registering to vote. Pre-registering to vote does not change the official voting age. Teenagers who are pre-registered are able to complete the online voter registration. Their registration becomes active once they’re 18 years old.

Here’s a breakdown of who can vote in a California election.

The basic requirements -

  • A U.S. citizen and resident of California.
  • 18 years of age or older.
  • Not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for a felony conviction.
  • No found mentally incompetent to vote by a court.

The requirements for persons with a criminal history

  • In county jail for a misdemeanor sentence, due to jail time as a condition of probation, serving a felony jail sentence, or awaiting trial.
  • On probation.
  • Mandatory supervision.
  • Post-release community supervision.
  • On federal supervised release.
  • A person with a juvenile wardship adjudication.

Who can't vote

Why a person with a criminal history would not be able to vote

  • Current imprisonment in state or federal prison.
  • Serving a state prison felony sentence in a county jail or other correctional facility.
  • Being in county jail waiting for a transfer to state or federal prison for a felony conviction.
  • Being in county jail for a parole violation.
  • Being on parole with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Once parole is finished, the right to vote is restored. However, the individual must re-register online or with a voter registration card.

Pre-registering to vote doesn't change the voting age

This is an option for 16 or 17 year olds interested in voting when they turn 18. By pre-registering, they’ll be automatically registered to vote in the first available election after their 18th birthday. It does not change the voting age.

Voting rights for undocumented immigrants

The first requirement for voting in an election is that you must be a U.S. citizen and a resident to vote in California. Permanent resident status or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients are not eligible.