It's fairly easy to find the procedures one must follow to register to vote in a state.

But looking at the process from another end, what exactly are the procedures that happen once the state gets an application to register someone as a voter?

Is there an official set of documents outlining the process and every step that's involved and all checks and side effects? What gets checked? Which databases does the info get added? What filtering applies? Are there people making judgement calls along the process or is everything mechanistically spelled out?

If the question is too broad due to every state having a separate set of rules (likely), let's zero in on California as that's the state I researched for linked answer.

  • 1
    Perhaps "Is there a state with a fully transparent voter registration process?" would cast the same net without the "maybe CA" part.
    – user9389
    Mar 26, 2018 at 21:39
  • 2
    @notstoreboughtdirt - I'm trying to avoid a trap of being too broad, since we have 50 states which ostensibly may ALL have different processes.
    – user4012
    Mar 26, 2018 at 21:55
  • @user4012 Don't forget DC.
    – origimbo
    Mar 26, 2018 at 22:05
  • 3
    "Ostensibly" nothing. They all definitely have different processes. There is no federal popular election in the US. There are 50 state elections plus a DC election (and territories, if you count local elections), which are all administered at the state level with very little federal oversight (besides the remains of the Voting Rights Act). Subsequent to these state+DC elections, there is a federal presidential election, but only 538 people get to vote in that one.
    – Kevin
    Oct 10, 2018 at 23:33
  • Pretty much, when someone registers to vote it goes into a database which is shared with election officials according to a very mechanical process, and that's it. It isn't "checked", although prior registrations of the same person in the same state may be purged in some states.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 11, 2018 at 4:19

1 Answer 1


I'm quite sure that the process is managed by the states. There have been relatively recent instances (in the last 20-30 years) when particular Southern states were found to be in violation of Federal Law and had to submit to monitoring and add corrections, but my memory is that this oversight was found to be no longer justified by US Supreme Court rulings (in the last 10 years). {Wish I could be more vague :-)}

The State of California's voting registration is managed by the California Secretary of State (an elected office). Voting can be either by mail or in person. The in-person election process is handled by the counties. The Site Map for Elections and Voting Information: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/site-map/

The Legislative authority and directions: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayexpandedbranch.xhtml?tocCode=ELEC&division=2.&title=&part=&chapter=&article=

Current Regulations: http://www.sos.ca.gov/administration/regulations/current-regulations/

The Sec'y of State maintains an online mechanism to check a persons current status in its system: https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/

There was a recent discovery the registration process at California Department of Motor Vehicles had allowed thousands of ineligble voters to be added to the registration rolls kept by the State. NYT article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/us/california-dmv-voter-registration.html

Here's the DMV website and notice that it includes quite a bit of information about registration in general: https://www.dmv.org/ca-california/voter-registration.php

2018 Poll Worker Training Standards: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california/help-strengthen-our-democracy/poll-worker-info/poll-worker-training-standards/

Poll Worker Training Guidelines 2005 (PDF version): http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/poll_worker_training_guidelines_final_draft1.pdf

Poll Worker Information: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/poll-worker-information/

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