Registration for Special Circumstances

Elections staff assisting a customer over the counter


The Department of Elections strives to ensure every eligible San Francisco resident has the opportunity to register and vote. If any of these circumstances apply to you, read on for important information. For more information, contact us through our contact form or call (415) 554-4375.

Military and Overseas Voters

You can qualify as a Military or Overseas voter if you are eligible to vote in California, absent from the county in which you are eligible to vote, and you are:

  • A member of the active or reserve components of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard; a Merchant Marine; a member of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps; a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps of the United States; or a member on activated status of the National Guard or state militia
  • A spouse or dependent of a person described above; or
  • A U.S. citizen living outside of the territorial limits of the United States

For information on how to apply and options to receive and return your ballot, visit our Military and Overseas Voters page.

Voters without a Fixed Address

To register to vote without a fixed street address, you may describe where you live by providing intersecting cross-streets on your registration application.

Because where you live determines which contests and candidates appear on your ballot, you may not provide a post office box or business address as your residential address. However, you may provide a post office box or business address as your mailing address in order to receive your Sample Ballot and other official election materials by mail.

Voters with Criminal Convictions

California law allows people with a criminal history to register and vote. In addition to standard qualifications to register, there are specific conditions related to voting with a criminal conviction.

You can register and vote if you:

  • Are in county jail:
    • Serving a misdemeanor sentence
    • Serving a felony jail sentence
    • Serving time as a condition of probation for a misdemeanor or felony conviction
    • Awaiting trial
  • Are on probation
  • Are on mandatory supervision
  • Are on post-release community supervision
  • Are on federal supervised release
  • Previously received a juvenile wardship adjudication

If you or someone you know is detained in a San Francisco County jail and meets any of the conditions listed above, contact Prisoner Legal Services to learn more about voting options.

Prisoner Legal Services
(415) 558-2472
555 7th Street, #201
San Francisco, CA 94103

You cannot register or vote if you are:

  • Imprisoned in:
    • State prison
    • Federal prison
  • Currently serving a state prison felony sentence in a county jail or other correctional facility
  • Currently on parole with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
    • Once you have completed parole, your right to vote is restored, but you must submit a new Voter Registration Application

Voters in College

The residential address where you are registered determines which contests and candidates appear on your ballot.

If you attend school away from home, you have the option to register to vote in either the county where you attend school or the county in which you permanently reside; you may not register to vote in both counties.

If you choose to vote by mail, you may provide a mailing address that is different from your residential address where you wish to receive your ballot and official election materials.

Confidential Voters

If you face certain life-threatening situations, you may qualify for confidential voter status. For information, visit the Safe at Home page on the Secretary of State’s website.

New Citizen Voters

If you are a new citizen of the United States and you live in San Francisco, you can register to vote online or submit a paper Voter Registration Form. Visit the Registration Basics page.

If you become a citizen after the registration deadline for an election, you may register and vote at the Department of Elections in City Hall, Room 48, until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Visit the Vote at the City Hall Voting Center page.

Non-citizen Voters (Board of Education Elections)

In the November 8, 2016, Consolidated General Election, San Francisco voters approved Proposition N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections by a vote of 54% to 46%.

Proposition N is a Charter amendment that allows a non-citizen resident of San Francisco who is of legal voting age, not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction, and the parent, legal guardian, or legally recognized caregiver of a child under the age of 19 living in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote for members of the Board of Education.

Non-citizen voting will be available at the next election for members of the Board of Education, scheduled for November 6, 2018, and at every Board of Education election until November 2022. School Board elections are scheduled every two years. The opportunity for non-citizens to vote in School Board elections is set to expire after the 2022 election unless the Board of Supervisors adopts an ordinance allowing it to continue.

As the Department of Elections continues to work with stakeholders and community activists to incorporate non-citizen voting into current election processes, more information will be made available on this page. For more information, contact us through our contact form or call (415) 554-4375.

Frequently Asked Questions for Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections.

Legal Text of the Charter Amendment (PDF)

Voters who Miss the Registration Deadline

The voter registration deadline is 15 days before the election.

If you did not register to vote before the registration deadline, you may register and vote a provisional ballot at the Department of Elections in City Hall, Room 48, until 8 p.m. on Election Day. For information, visit the Provisional Voting page.