What is a Primary Election?

Voters In California Head To Polls To Cast Ballots In State's Primary Election

On March 3, 2020, voters will head to the polls to vote in the California Primary, hoping to narrow down the candidates vying for their party's nomination for their office. With fewer than 60 days remaining, it's a good idea to review the stakes and what the primary means for you and your chosen candidate - especially since California's primary is a little different than the rest of the nation.

California has what's known as a "top-two" primary system in which all candidates for the office are listed on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters - regardless of their party's affiliation - move on to the general election in November. For example, in 2016, California's primary resulted in two Democratic candidates for the open senate seat.

This year will see California's earliest primary yet. Before, California's primary was held much later in the year, in June. However, in September 2017, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation moving the state's primary to an earlier date in an effort to increase the state's influence on the presidential nominating process. March 3 is also known as "Super Tuesday" in which a large number of states will be holding elections.

Voters who are registered with "no party preference" will be allowed to vote for Democratic, Libertarian and American Independent Party candidates. "No party preference" voters will have to register as a Republican to vote on one of their ballots. The deadline to make the switch is 15 calendar days before the election.

To be eligible to vote in California, you must be:

  • A United States citizen
  • A resident of California
  • 18-years or older by the day of the next election
  • Not imprisoned or on parole for a felony conviction
  • Not found mentally incompetent by a court.

Here's what you'll need to register to vote:

  • Your California driver license or California identification card number,
  • The last four digits of your social security number and
  • Your date of birth.

Check your Voter Registration Status here!

Register to vote here!

More information on voting in California can be found here!

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