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How Do I Vote If I Am Experiencing Homelessness?
You do not need a permanent address or a government-issued ID to vote.
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There are state laws and judicial rulings that support the right of a person who is experiencing homelessness to register to vote. But that doesn't mean the process is easy to figure out. If you're unhoused and want to vote, this FAQ is intended to help address some of the most common challenges, such as:

  • no access to a mailing address/way to get mail
  • loss of identification documents required to register
  • no outreach on dates and subjects of elections
  • confusion about polling places

This FAQ is specifically for people who are experiencing homelessness. If you are not experiencing homelessness or don’t find your question or answer below, it may be covered in one of our other FAQs.

We also have a version of this information available in a flyer, which you can open and download here. Email us at engagement@scpr.org if you would like copies to distribute.

Registration

How do I register without a permanent address?

You don’t have to have a permanent address to register to vote.

When you register, you can list the nearest cross streets or use similar location details to describe the place where you are living. After that, you can vote at any polling station in the county in which you are registered to vote.

The deadline to register online to vote is Oct. 24. You can also register to vote in-person at any vote center, all the way through Election Day. It's called same-day voter registration. The same information about your location applies.

Register to vote online.

Page 1 of Voter Registration in LA County For People Experiencing Homelessness
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Can I register without identification?

You don’t need to have government-issued identification to register to vote.

If you do not have a government-issued identification card, you can register to vote with the last four digits of your social security number.

If you don’t know your social security number or you don’t have one, you can still register. Leave the box asking for your identification information blank, and your county elections official will assign a number to you that will be used to identify you as a voter.

A screenshot of the California Secretary of State website asking registrants to provide identification. The text reads: "New voters may have to show a form of identification or proof of residency the first time they vote, if a driver license or SSN was not provided when registering." Below that is a prompt: "California driver license or California identification card number," followed by empty field. Underneath is a checkbox that reads: "I do not have a California driver license or California identification card."
The next field prompts: "Social security number (last 4 numbers) and an empty field. Underneath is a checkbox that reads: "I do not have a social security number."
Screenshot from the new voter registration page of the California Secretary of State website.

If I didn’t register to vote before going to a polling station, can I still vote?

Yes, you can still vote if you didn’t register in advance.

California offers same-day voter registration. That means you can go to any vote center after they open in L.A. and Orange counties on Oct. 29 and register and vote at the same time.

If you did not register to vote in advance, you will vote with a provisional ballot. That means that your ballot will be counted after elections officials confirm the validity of your voter registration and ensure you haven’t already voted.

Provisional ballots are placed in pink envelopes, secured for processing and counted.

Provisional ballots have been used in California since 1984. According to the California Secretary of State, on average, 85% to 90% of provisional ballots were valid and counted in prior elections.

If you don’t have a government-issued identification card and don’t know your social security number or don’t have one, it may take longer to verify your ballot.

Vote-By-Mail

Can I vote by mail without an address?

If you do not list a mailing address on your voter registration, you will not receive a mail-in ballot and will have to vote in person at a polling station.

However, if there is a place where you can reliably receive mail, such as a PO Box or a friend's address, you can list that place as your mailing address. The voter registration form allows you to list a home address and indicate that you have a separate mailing address. (Your home address should reflect where you are living. You can list the nearest cross streets or give other descriptions.)

To update your mailing address, you’ll have to update your voter registration. The deadline for doing that is Oct. 24. After Oct. 24, which is the online registration deadline, you’ll need to re-register and vote in person. If you vote in a Voter’s Choice Act county (Los Angeles and Orange counties are both VCA counties), you can re-register and vote in person at any vote center in your county after they open on Oct. 29.

A screenshot from the California Secretary of State website new voter registration page. This section of the registration form asks for your home and mailing address information. The first section, "Home Address," allows you to select a button that either says "I have a street address" or "I do not have a street address." There are several fields below that, asking for street address, apartment or unit number, city, state, zip, and county. 
Underneath that is a checked box that reads: "My mailing address is different from my home address." When checked, that brings up a new set of fields underneath to fill out your mailing address, asking for the same information (street address, city, state, zip) as above.
Screenshot from the California Secretary of State website's new voter registration page.

If you have a mailing address on your registration but you haven't received a mail-in ballot, you can request a new mail-in ballot until Nov. 1.

You can return your mail-in ballot several ways:

  • Mail it in by dropping it in any post office box, no postage required. Just make sure it's postmarked no later than Nov. 8, 2022.
  • Turn it in at a vote center or polling place in your county by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2022.
  • Drop it in an official drop box in your county by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2022. Avoid fake drop boxes. Here is what official drop boxes in L.A. County and Orange County look like. 
  • Designate another person to drop it off for you — as long as that person doesn't get paid to pick up ballots. There's a space on your ballot envelope to write the name of the person you've chosen to turn in your vote. 

Be sure to sign your ballot with the signature that matches what the registrar has on file (probably your ID signature). Again, no worries about stamps! Postage is free for all mail-in ballots in the state of California.

Voting In Person

How do I find the nearest polling station to vote in-person?

If you are registered to vote in L.A. County, you can vote at any polling station in the county. It’s OK if it’s a different city than the one you live in. You can find a list of polling locations here.

If you are registered to vote in Orange County, you can vote at any polling station in Orange County.

Polls open for early voting in L.A. and Orange counties on Oct. 29. The following nonprofit works with unhoused people and will also serve as a mobile vote center:

LA Family Housing: Winn Community Room, 6843 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood 

  • Early voting: Oct. 29 – Nov. 7, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Election Day: Nov. 8, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

My Friend’s Place: Parking lot at 5850 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

  • Early voting: Nov. 7, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you’re not sure where to go to cast a vote, you can call the L.A. County Registrar at (800) 815-2666.

You can also reach out to nonprofits that work with unhoused people. If you’re on Skid Row or in Hollywood or South L.A., organizations like the Downtown Women’s Center, LA CAN and Spread the Vote will be doing outreach to unhoused voters.

If you’re unhoused and not in an area where there is heavy outreach, the Los Angeles Community Action Network urges you to reach out to one of these organizations so they can connect you to the information you need to cast a vote:

  • Downtown Women’s Center: Call 213-680-0600
  • LA CAN: Call 213-228-0024 or email them at contact@cangress.org
  • Spread the Vote: Go to spreadthevote.org

Spread the Vote will also help voters get to polling locations in certain areas. Go to spreadthevote.org to find out more about assistance getting to a polling location. If you know of an organization interested in becoming a mobile voting center, it can register on the registrar's website.

If you are an organization hosting a mobile vote center to serve unhoused voters and want to be listed here, email us at engagement@scpr.org.

Can I bring my pet or belongings to a vote center?

Service animals are allowed in vote centers, but other types of pets are typically not.

L.A. Family Housing will assist voters who arrive with pets or belongings that can't be brought into their mobile vote centers.

What do I do if a poll worker tries to turn me away?

Poll workers aren’t allowed to discriminate against people experiencing homelessness or keep them from casting a vote.

If you run into issues, you should ask to speak to the person in charge of the vote center. If they don't help you, call the California Secretary of State's voter hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683) for English or (800) 345-VOTA (8682) for Spanish.

How do I figure out who to vote for?

One of the biggest barriers to voting, regardless of whether you are housed or unhoused, is the same: getting the information you need to make a decision.

First, you can explore our full Voter Game Plan to help you figure it all out. In addition, two local nonprofits publish their own voter guides: Keep an eye out for guides from California Calls, an alliance of community organizations that takes input from organizations working on the ground with unhoused people, and Spread the Vote, which provides nonpartisan descriptions of candidates, what the job is, and what your rights are as a voter.

These guides can be found at shelters and other nonprofits as Election Day draws closer. And finally, you can always call your county elections office with any questions. A full list of California elections offices is available here.

How can I get a printout of this information?

We also have a version of this information available in a flyer, which you can open and download here. Email us at engagement@scpr.org if you would like copies to distribute.

Additional resources

Who do I contact if I still have voter registration questions?

The California Secretary of State has a voting hotline that you can call: (800) 345-VOTE, or you can reach out via email: elections@sos.ca.gov.

You can contact your local county elections office.

You can also ask us via the form below and our Voter Game Plan team will do our best to get you an answer.

More Voter Guides

City of Los Angeles

L.A. County

  • Sheriff: Compare the two candidates for L.A. County sheriff
  • Water Agencies: Learn what they do and what to look for in a candidate

How to evaluate judges

California propositions

  • Propositions 26 and 27: The difference between the sports betting ballot measures
  • Proposition 29: Why kidney dialysis is on your ballot for the third time
  • Proposition 30: Why Lyft is the biggest funder of this ballot measure

Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.

Updated October 10, 2022 at 8:09 PM PDT
This FAQ was first published for the June 2022 primary election and updated for the November general election.