Immigrants and Voting in California

Many children in immigrant families live in mixed-status households. There may be family members eligible to vote in the household and teenagers eligible to pre-register or register. 

Basic Statistics: 

  • Total turnout among eligible voters in CA in the March 2020 for the primary election: 38.36%
    • San Francisco county: 46.48%
  • California has more immigrant eligible voters (5.5 million) than any other state, more than New York (2.5 million) and Florida (2.5 million) combined. (Reference)
  • In California, Asians make up 43% of immigrant eligible voters, the highest of any racial or ethnic group.
  • Nationally, Latinos make up the highest share of immigrant eligible voters (34%).

Basic information: 


  • US Citizen. 
    • If not a US citizen, not eligible to vote. 
  • To register online: 
    • Your California driver license or California identification card number
    • The last four digits of your social security number
    • Your date of birth.
  • To register: 

For our ineligible families

  • Voting is only one part of civic engagement. Other examples: volunteering, encouraging friends and family who are eligible to vote to vote
  • Emphasize that their voice and perspective is important. 
  • Each encounter is an opportunity to reinforce their belonging in American democracy and potential ways they can contribute, both now and in the future, to their communities.

Vote from Home or In-Person in CA: (reference)

  • Vote from Home: All registered voters in California will receive a ballot in the mail, which they can return 1) by mail, 2) at a secure ballot drop box and/or the county elections office, or 3) at an in-person voting site.
  • Vote In-Person (and Vote Early): Early voting will be available in almost all counties. Many counties will offer consolidated voting sites for the first time, some counties will offer their standard polling places, and many other counties will offer vote centers as they have previously under the Voter’s Choice Act. The state and counties will have safety guidelines for voting sites, including maintaining physical distance and wearing face-coverings.

Identification requirements: (reference)

  • Usually, a voter is not required to show identification to a polling place worker before casting a ballot.
  • If you are voting for the first time after registering to vote by mail and did not provide your driver license number, California identification number or the last four digits of your social security number on your registration form, you may be asked to show a form of identification when you go to the polls (i.e. a copy of a recent utility bill, the sample ballot booklet you received from your county elections office or another document sent to you by a government agency,  passport, driver license, official state identification card, or student identification card showing your name and photograph).

Potential fears and barriers to immigrant voters

1. Language Access:

  • Key facts: 
  • Options: (reference)
    • If you vote by mail, call your county elections office to find out what is available in your preferred language in your county. 
    • If you vote at a polling place, ask if translated materials are available and if the staff present speaks your preferred language. 
    • In CA, you can collect signed and sealed ballots and return them for other people.
    • If you know a friend, family member, or other community member who might need assistance voting an English ballot, you can accompany them to the polling place and explain the various ballot measures and candidates to them in their preferred language.
    • Operating poll monitoring programs (also known as election observing) during most major California elections. Poll monitor volunteers visit polling places across Northern California and the Central Valley to ensure that voters receive the language assistance they are guaranteed under both federal and state law, voters are not being intimidated or harassed when voting, polling places are accessible to people with disabilities, and more.
    • You can look for signs in your language. 
    • You can access factsheets on language access in voting that explain what resources are available in your language.
  • Hotlines for voter information in 9 languages: 
    • 800) 345-VOTE (8683) – English
    • (800) 232-VOTA (8682) - español / Spanish
    • (800) 339-2857 - 中文 / Chinese
    • (888) 345-2692 - हिन्दी / Hindi
    • (800) 339-2865 - 日本語 / Japanese
    • (888) 345-4917 - ខ្មែរ / Khmer
    • (866) 575-1558 - 한국어 / Korean
    • (800) 339-2957 - Tagalog
    • (855) 345-3933 - ภาษาไทย / Thai
    • (800) 339-8163 - Việt ngữ / Vietnamese
    • (800) 833-8683 – TTY/TDD



2. Fear of consequences of voting: 

  • Public charge does not affect U.S. citizens. (An easy-to-use resource on Public Charge)
  • ICE officials present at voting sites: At this time, it is believed ICE will not patrol or conduct law enforcement operations at polling places. If there is any concern, there are recommendations for how to interact with ICE here. (reference)

3. Housing insecurity (reference)

  • Persons experiencing homelessness can register and vote in all 50 states.
  • It is recommended homeless registrants list a shelter address as their voting address where they could receive mail. Alternatively, homeless registrants may denote a street corner or a park as their residence, in lieu of a traditional home address. The federal voter registration form and many state forms provide a space for this purpose.

4. Fear of COVID risk at the polls

  • Mail ballots will be sent to every registered voter in CA. 
  • If going to the polls: wear a mask, practice 6-feet apart social distancing as much as possible, and wash your hands before and after.


Paid opportunity for our adolescent patients: 

  • >16 yo, U.S.-citizen or legal permanent resident high school students: Poll-workers needed throughout CA.
  • More information here
  • Of note: deadlines in many counties may have passed by interested students can reach out to their country’s department of elections or keep it in mind for the future

Additional Resources: 

The VOICE Project, information about voting in English and Spanish: 

SIREN Voter Guides for CA propositions in various languages: 

Understanding the Issues by VotoLatino in English:

For a comprehensive list of policies and voter information in English:

Resources specifically targeting Latino voters in English:

Resources on Voting rights & Census in various languages:

General resources for immigrants in English and Spanish:


This page was created in partnership with Dr. Greta Peng, Dr. Alexandria Valdrighi, and the UCSF Pediatrics Immigrant Health Task Force.