California’s primary election is around the corner: Here’s the key dates, things to know

The California primary election falls on March 5 this year, a date known as Super Tuesday because more than a dozen states are tentatively holding their primaries on the same day.

In California, voting can begin several weeks before with mail-in ballots, and in-person voting can also take place in the days before March 5 in certain areas.

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Below is a guide to the key dates and actions that California voters should know and take to participate in the 2024 California primary election.

How to register to vote in California

Although the state has a deadline for registering to vote in the primary election, voters can register up until election day itself, although they will cast a provisional ballot, meaning it can take some time to process the registration before the ballot is tallied.

You’ll need the following to register to vote:
•Be a U.S. citizen and resident of California
•Be 18 years old or older on election day
•Not currently serving a state or federal prison term for a felony
•Not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court

Motor Voter Law: California has made it easier to register to vote in recent years, including through voter registration for Californians who complete certain actions at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and wish to register to vote at the same time.

Online registration: Californians can register to vote online at this link, and residents aged 16 or 17 who want to be future voters can pre-register at this link. If you want to check the status of your voter registration, you can do so at this link.

In-person registration: You can register to vote at your county elections office, all 58 of which can be found at this link. You can also get an application at the DMV, many post offices, public libraries and government offices.

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How to vote in the California primary election

Vote-by-mail: California sends a ballot in the mail to every registered voter. These can be filled out and submitted through the postal service for free.

Elections offices: Ballots received in the mail can be turned in to elections offices, either at a drop-off box or inside. Ballots can also be requested at these offices and filled in on the spot up until election day.

Vote centers: Around half of California’s 58 counties open vote centers up to 10 days prior to elections and offer various voting services.

Polls: Voters can turn in or fill out a ballot at the traditional location, the local polling site, on election day. These open at community locations, serve voters who live nearby, and can be found at this link from the Secretary of State.

Key dates to know about the California primary election

Feb. 5 – ballots mailed: California sends a mail-in ballot to every registered voter from each county’s respective elections office. Voters can fill it out and mail it in or turn it in in person at these offices or other voting locations.

Feb. 6 – drop-off locations open: Ballot drop-off locations open on this day, allowing voters to turn in their ballots.

Feb. 20 – last day to register: The last day to register to vote for the March 5 primary election is February 20, although California allows registering up until the day of the election, but this will be a provisional ballot and will not be counted until the voter’s registration is processed.

Feb. 24 – Vote centers open: Around half of California’s counties participate in the Voter’s Choice Act. These counties open multiple vote centers 10 days before election day and allow voters to fill out and turn in ballots at any vote center they choose.

March 12 – deadline for postmarked ballots: Ballots turned in by mail on or before election day must be received by this date in order to be tallied.

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