Voting Basics: Voters' Rights

Click on a question below to find answers about Voters' Rights:

Check your voter
registration status
by using the
Alameda County
Registrar of Voters

"My Voter Profile" tool

 


What Are My Rights as a Voter?

Under California’s Voter Bill of Rights, you have the following rights:

  • The right to vote if you are a registered voter
  • The right to vote if you are a registered voter, even if your name is not on the list at the polling place
    • 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
    • No one can bother you or tell you how to vote at the polling place
  • 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
    • Exchange your vote-by-mail ballot for a new one at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office or at your polling place
    • 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 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 elections officials questions about election procedures and to 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 to the California Secretary of State’s office
    • On the web
    • By phone at 1 (800) 345-8683
    • By email at elections@sos.cac.gov

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

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What Are My Rights as a Voter with Disabilities?

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.

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What Are My Rights as a Voter in Need of Language Assistance?

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.

Language Assistance

  • In some localities, voter information pamphlets and sample ballots are translated into Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese, among other languages.
  • In some polling places, bilingual poll workers are available to assist voters in their own language.
  • For additional voting guidance see Alameda County Registrar of Voters’ website in:
    Spanish | Chinese | Tagalog | Vietnamese

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What Are My Rights as a Voter with a Criminal Conviction?

A misdemeanor conviction does not affect your right to vote—you can vote in all elections. If you have a felony conviction and are eligible to vote, you do not need to do anything to “restore” your right to vote. It is automatically restored once you have completed your sentence and are no longer on parole. However, you must register or re-register to vote in an upcoming election.

Voter with a criminal conviction

  • If you have a felony conviction, you CAN VOTE if you:
    • Are on probation, even if you are in county jail as a condition of your probation, or
    • Have completed your probation, or
    • Are awaiting a judge’s decision on a probation violation, or
    • Are on mandatory supervision, or
    • Are on post-release community supervision, or
    • Have completed your parole
  • The only time you are not allowed to vote is if you:
    • Have a felony conviction and you are still in state prison, or
    • Are serving an 1170(h) felony sentence in county jail, or
    • Are awaiting transfer to a state prison, or
    • Are on parole
  • Once you have completed your sentence and parole, you can register to vote. If you are unsure what type of sentence you are serving check with your parole or probation officer

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