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How to vote in the special election when you don't have an address or are experiencing homelessness

Voting booths are spread out inside a vote center in La Mesa Arts Academy, June 7, 2022 with KPBS Voter Hub overlay.
Heather Milne
Voting booths are spread out inside a vote center in La Mesa Arts Academy, June 7, 2022 with KPBS Voter Hub overlay.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in October, 2022, but it has been updated with the latest information for the Nov. 7, 2023 Special Election.

Voting is a right and you don't lose that if you're unhoused or live abroad, but it can be confusing to navigate.

You don't need a permanent address, nor do you need a mailing address. Here's how to vote if you are temporarily unsheltered.


How to register to vote without an address?

In California, you don't lose voting residence until you gain a new residence. So, if you lose your home for any reason (such as wildfire), are living on the road or are unsheltered and do not yet have a fixed place to stay, you may use your previous address to register to vote.

You can also register using the city, ZIP code and closest cross-street intersection where you intend to sleep each night. It could be a park, public camp or a shelter. For the Nov. 7, 2023, special election, your residence needs to be within the city of Chula Vista, county District 4 or Rainbow or Fallbrook water districts.

Your mailing address can be different from your residential address. See below to learn how to receive your ballot.

The deadline to register to vote for the Special Election is Oct. 23. You can register here. If you missed the deadline, you could also do same-day registration at a vote center.

➡ Vote Center locations have not been released by the Registrar of Voters. This page will be updated with a list of locations when they become available.

How do I register to vote without identification?

If you don't have a government-issued ID, you can register to vote using the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you don't remember your Social Security number or don't have one, you can leave that part blank, and the Registrar of Voters will issue a number identifying you as a voter.

How will I receive my ballot?

When you register to vote, you will need to provide a mailing address. It could be a Post Office Box or any place that allows you to receive mail there.

For those who are experiencing homelessness and don't have any other means of getting mail, the United States Postal Service offers General Mail service for those without a fixed address and/or identification. In San Diego, General Mail service is only available at the Midway Post Office, 2701 Midway Drive.


How do I vote now that I am registered?

Once you are registered, you can mail back your ballot (no postage required) or take your ballot to any voting center and cast your vote.

Poll workers cannot discriminate against people experiencing homelessness or prevent them from voting. If someone is preventing you from voting, you can ask for the voting center supervisor or call the Secretary of State's voter hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683). (Para Español (800) 345-VOTA (8682))


🗳️ Vote-by-mail ballots begin to be sent to all active California registered voters starting Oct. 8. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 23. (If voters miss this deadline they can still register and vote in person at any vote center location.) Nov. 7 is the election day for special elections in District 4, for Chula Vista City Attorney and Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District, but many vote centers are open prior to election day. Vote center and drop-off locations close at 8 p.m. on election day.

Not sure who to vote for? Find election guides with candidates and measures information in KPBS' Voter Hub.