Voter Registration Forms at the Rincon Valley Library (Photo: Josephine Rivera-Hoagland, The Puma Prensa)
by Josephine Rivera-Hoagland, features editor
The youngest eligible voters (18-24) currently have the lowest voter turnout in the United States, hovering around or below 50 percent for the past 20 years in presidential elections. The younger generations, though, have the most to lose: decisions made now will potentially affect us decades into the future.
This guide is meant to instruct citizens at least 16 years of age or older to pre-register, register and/or vote in California both online and in person, as well as supply voting dates for elections in the next year. Keep in mind that you may have already pre-registered while getting your learner’s permit at the DMV or registered while getting your driver’s license. If you are unsure whether you are registered or not, visit voterstatus.sos.ca.gov to check.
Register (18 or older by Election Day):
In California, there are several options for registering. The first, and perhaps the easiest, is online registration. You will need to know two things: the last four digits of your social security number, as well as consent to the use of your DMV-stored digital signature. However, if you lack one or both of these things, you can also register by mail to vote.
The second option is to use a California Registration Form, located at our neighboring Rincon Valley Library or your own local post office, DMV, or library. Fill it out completely, making sure to read the instructions twice. Send the completed form to your county elections officials; if you live in Sonoma County, this would be at P.O. Box 11485 Santa Rosa, CA 95406.
Your third option is to print and fill out the National Registration Form. You must know one of these three: your driver’s license card number (if applicable), your California ID card number (if applicable), or your social security number. You can leave the race or ethnicity box blank, as it is not required as of publishing, and you are not required to fill out the political affiliation box either, but it may limit your ability to participate in primary elections if you move to a different state. Lastly, place a copy of proof of identification in the letter, which could be a current and valid photo identification, a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows your name and address clearly. Again, please send a copy and not the actual document. Send both the copy and the completed form to P.O. Box 11485 Santa Rosa, CA 95406.
In case none of the options are available for you, you can always do in-person registration, but be aware that the coronavirus may affect your ability to do so. The Sonoma County election office is located at 435 Fiscal Drive, Santa Rosa, for in person registration.
Lastly, you can do same day registration on Election Day at your local election office (listed above at 435 Fiscal Drive), polling place, or vote center. All of these locations will be listed on the Sonoma County Registrar webpage near Election Day.
Pre-Register (16 and 17 year olds):
If you have your driver’s license or permit, you may have already pre-registered to vote. Otherwise, visit the California Online Voter Registration Page, where you can find the option to pre-register. Similar to the National Voter Registration form, you must know one of the following: your driver’s license card number (if applicable), your California ID card number (if applicable), or your social security number. You may not need to fill out all of the boxes on the page, such as your email address or ethnicity.
Currently, there are no polling places open for the primary election, but they can be found on nass.org/can-I-vote when they do open. You do not need to bring any identification to the polling place if you already provided it on your voter registration form. Anyone of any political party can vote in California’s primary election. For mail voting or absentee ballots, vote-by-mail ballots are sent to all registered voters regardless of whether you are planning to vote in person or via mail. Please fill out the ballot in blue or black ink completely, and then place it into the envelope provided. You can drop off this envelope into any ballot dropbox (such as the one at Rincon Valley Library), mail it to your county elections official at P.O. Box 11485 Santa Rosa, CA 95406-148, or return it in person to your county elections official or at any polling place.
June 7, 2022 — Primary Elections in California
November 8, 2022 — General Elections in California