Election Day Registration in California at Any Polling Place in Your County!


Shyaam Subramanian


As the 2020 election season nears, nonprofits are gearing up to register and encourage people to vote. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed SB 72 (Umberg) into law to allow any eligible Californian to register to vote at any polling place in their county on Election Day starting in 2020. The law will also allow registered voters to cast a ballot at any polling place in their county (assuming their ballot is available at that site) and not just at their assigned precinct.

Currently, eligible Californians may only register to vote at specified locations in their county on Election Day. Most counties across the state, including populous ones like Los Angeles and Orange, only offer Election Day registration at one site in the county. According to Senator Umberg’s office, in 2018 85% of the state’s 25.2 million eligible voters lived in a county that provided same-day registration exclusively at their county elections office on Election Day. People often had to wait in line for hours or travel long distances to be able to register. This meant for many, Election Day registration was available in theory, but not in practice.

Advocates that fought for the new law—including the ACLU of California, Common Cause California, the League of Women Voters of California, the California Public Interest Research Group, and their partners—believe that the new law eliminates an unnecessary barrier to voting. The ACLU of Northern California notes that, “studies show that a disproportionate number of eligible, unregistered voters are younger, lower-income, people with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency, or people of color. Making Election Day registration available at every polling site will assist the registration of geographically mobile, lower-income citizens, young voters, and voters of color.”

Nonprofit advocacy was an important factor in making this vision a reality. To better advocate with confidence, review our resources on California’s lobbying disclosure rules and how to conduct election year advocacy in a nonpartisan manner. For free technical assistance, reach out to us at advocacy@afj.org or call us at 1-866-675-6229!