Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ten Things to Know About California's Primary

I'm happy to introduce Ten Things to Know About California's Primary, a list of ten tips for voting in the upcoming June 7th election.

One of those tips is to encourage California's independent voters to verify they are registered as "no party preference" and not accidentally registered with the American Independent Party (AIP). 

A Los Angeles Times survey of 500 AIP voters found nearly three in four did not know they were registered with the party. The Times' coverage features first-person stories, including one by a Times reporter who found herself mistakenly registered AIP, and one story on the need to clarify the options on the state's registration form

Luckily for California voters, the Times has set up an online lookup tool where they can check if they are registered AIP or No Party Preference. More tips for how to check your registration status and what you need to do to get ready to vote on June 7th are below. 

Ten Things to Know About California's Primary

published by the California Voter Foundation

On Tuesday, June 7, California will hold a statewide primary election and voters will help choose which candidates will be selected as the political parties' nominees for U.S. President. Many other federal, state and local contests are on the ballot as well. 

Here are ten tips for voting in California's Primary:
  1. You must be registered to vote at your current address by Monday, May 23.

  2. You can check your registration address and declared party preference by contacting your County Registrar of Voters. You can contact them by phone or email; some offer voter registration status lookup tools from their official election web sites. You may also receive an official county publication or notice in the mail showing your current party preference.

  3. Unlike your voting options in all other California political contests, your voting right in the Presidential primary depends on the political party you are registered with. Though California has an "open primary," the political parties decide whether to open their primaries to independent voters. (In the November general election, you can vote for any party's Presidential candidate regardless of your party preference.)

  4. If you are registered with a political party, you can only vote for a candidate running for President in that party.

  5. If you want to vote for a Republican Presidential candidate, you must be registered with the Republican Party.

  6. If you want to vote for a Democratic Presidential candidate, you must be registered with the Democratic Party or be registered as "No Party Preference", which is the term used in California to register as an independent (also called "decline to state"). Independents make up nearly one-fourth of California's registered voters.

  7. "American Independent" is not the same as independent. It is an actual party and if you are one of the nearly half million Californians registered with this party, your Presidential primary choices will be limited to this party's candidates.

  8. If you want to register, update your address or change your party preference you must complete a voter registration application and submit it by May 23. You can register online at or request a paper application by calling 1-800-345-VOTE, or call or visit your county registrar of voters. But don't wait until the last minute. The sooner you apply to register or change your registration, the more likely you will receive official state and local ballot information in advance of Election Day.

  9. If you ask at the polls to vote for a presidential candidate for whom you are not eligible to vote, you will be invited to cast a provisional ballot. Your choice for president will not be counted but the rest of your choices in other contests will be. If you write in the name of a candidate who appears on another party's ballot, your vote in that contest will not be counted but your other votes will be.

  10. There are 34 U.S. Senate candidates on the ballot. Look at your ballot carefully. Because there are so many, the candidates may be listed in two or more columns or on two pages. Be sure to cast only one vote for U.S. Senate or your vote will not count.