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Sacramento County Vote by Mail Official Ballot. (Photo: Saccounty.net)

Preelection Residency Confirmation Procedures in California

This procedure is initiated by mailing a nonforwardable postcard to each registered voter of the county

By Chris Micheli, February 18, 2022 3:30 pm

California’s Elections Code provides for residency confirmation procedures in Division 2, Chapter 3, Article 2. Section 2220 requires the county elections official to conduct a preelection residency confirmation procedure as provided in this article. This procedure must be completed by the 90th day immediately before the primary election.

This procedure is initiated by mailing a nonforwardable postcard to each registered voter of the county preceding the direct primary election. Postcards mailed must be sent “Address Correction Requested, Return Postage Guaranteed,” and must be in substantially the following form:

“We are requesting your assistance in correcting the addresses of voters who have moved and have not reregistered.

“1. If you still live at the address noted on this postcard, your voter registration will remain in effect and you may disregard this notice.

“2. If the person named on this postcard is not at this address, please return this postcard to your mail carrier.”

The county elections official, at the county elections official’s discretion, cannot be required to mail a residency confirmation postcard to any of the following:

  • A voter who has voted at an election held within the last six months preceding the start of the confirmation procedure.
  • A voter who has confirmed the voter’s voter registration records on the internet website of the Secretary of State within the last year preceding the start of the confirmation procedure.
  • A person under 18 years of age who has submitted a properly executed affidavit of registration and who will not be 18 years of age on or before the primary election.

Section 2221 requires, based on the postal notices on the returned residency confirmation postcards, the county elections official to take the following actions:

  • The voter registration status of a voter whose residency confirmation postcard is returned by the post office as undeliverable and who has no forwarding address must be updated by the county elections official to inactive, and the voter is mailed a confirmation notice.
  • The voter registration record of a voter for whom a forwarding address within the county or outside the county is received must be immediately updated by the county elections official to reflect the new address provided by the post office, the former address must be maintained with the voter registration record, and the voter must be mailed a confirmation notice.

Section 2222 provides that, in lieu of mailing a residency confirmation postcard, the Secretary of State or a county elections official may contract with the United States Postal Service or its licensees to obtain use of postal service change-of-address data, such as the National Change of Address System (NCOA) and Operation Mail.

Section 2223 provides, in lieu of mailing a residency confirmation postcard to each registered voter in the county, the county elections official may include the return address of the county elections official’s office on the outside portion of the county voter information guide along with the statements: “Address Correction Requested” and “Notice: If the person named on the county voter information guide is not at the address, please help keep the voter rolls current and save taxpayer dollars by returning this county voter information guide to your mail carrier.”

Section 2224 provides that, if a voter has not voted in an election within the preceding four years, and the voter’s residence address, name, or party preference has not been updated during that time, the county elections official may send an alternate residency confirmation postcard.

The postcard must be forwardable, including a postage-paid and preaddressed return form to enable the voter to verify or correct the address information, and be in substantially the following form:

“If the person named on the postcard is not at this address, PLEASE help keep the voter rolls current and save taxpayer dollars by returning this postcard to your mail carrier.”

“IMPORTANT NOTICE”

“According to our records you have not voted in any election during the past four years, which may indicate that you no longer reside in ____ County. If you continue to reside in California, you must confirm your residency address in order to remain on the active voter list and receive election materials in the mail.”

“If confirmation has not been received within 15 days, you may be required to provide proof of your residence address in order to vote at future elections.”

Section 2225 specifies that, based on change-of-address data received from the United States Postal Service or its licensees, the county elections official must send a forwardable notice, including a postage-paid and preaddressed return form, to enable the voter to verify or correct address information.

If postal service change-of-address data indicates that the voter has moved to a new residence address in California, the forwardable notice must be in substantially the following form:

“We have received notification that you have moved to a new residence address in California. Your voter registration record has been updated to this new address. If this is correct, you do not have to take any action. If this is incorrect, you can notify our office by either returning the attached postage-paid postcard, or by calling toll free; you must notify us at least 15 days prior to the next election or you may be required to vote using a provisional ballot.”

Section 2226 states that, based on change-of-address information received, or change-of-address information provided directly by the voter, the county elections official is required to take the following actions as appropriate:

  • If the information indicates the voter has moved to a new residence address in California, the county elections official must immediately update the voter’s registration record.
  • If the mailings have been returned as undeliverable, or if NCOA, Operation Mail, a returned mailing, or postal service change-of-address data received from a nonforwardable mailing indicates that the voter has moved and left no forwarding address, or if any of these sources indicate that a voter has moved out of the state, the county elections official must update the status of the voter’s registration to inactive.
  • If a voter’s registration status is inactive based on the voter’s failure to confirm the voter’s address, the county elections official must send a forwardable address verification mailing.

The voter registration record of a voter whose status is inactive for failure to respond to an address verification mailing, and who does not offer to vote or vote at any election between the date of the mailing and two federal general elections after the date of that mailing, is required to be canceled.

A voter who has a registration status of inactive, who offers to vote at any election between the date of the verification mailing and two federal general elections after the date of that mailing, or who notifies the elections official of a continued residency, must have the voter’s voter registration status updated to active.

Section 2227 states that, in lieu of mailing a residency confirmation postcard, the county elections official may contract with a consumer credit reporting agency or its licensees to obtain use of change-of-address data in accordance with this section.

Based on change-of-address data received from a consumer credit reporting agency or its licensees, the county elections official is required to send a forwardable notice, including a postage-paid and preaddressed return form, which may be in the form of a postcard, to the registered voter to enable the voter to verify or correct address information. The forwardable notice must be in substantially the following form:

“We have received notification that you have moved to a new residence address in ____ County. You will remain registered to vote at your old address unless you notify our office that the address to which this card was mailed is a change of your permanent residence. Please notify our office in writing by returning the attached postage-paid postcard. If this is not a permanent residence, and you do not wish to change your address for voting purposes, please disregard this notice.”

The county elections official is required to take all of the following actions as appropriate:

  • If a voter responds to the forwardable notice sent or otherwise verifies in a signed writing that the voter has moved to a new residence address in California, the county elections official must verify the signature on the response by comparing it to the signature on file for the voter and, if appropriate, immediately update the voter’s registration record with the new residence address.
  • If a voter does not respond to the forwardable notice sent and does not otherwise verify in a signed writing that the voter has moved to a new residence address, the elections official cannot update the status of the voter’s registration to inactive or cancel the voter registration.
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