How to vote in the California presidential primary, explained

Californians will vote on March 3 for presidential
nominees. And already a bunch of people online are dispensing advice that’s totally — what’s
the word? — wrong. Sylvia. Wrong. Roy. Wrong. Oh, come on, Susan Surandon. Just incredibly
wrong. Let me explain. Hi, I’m Ben Christopher, elections reporter
for CalMatters. Grab a pen. Here’s how the 2020 presidential primary works in California. The primaries for
The Republican Party The Green Party and
The Peace and Freedom Party Are for Members Only No exceptions. No. You can’t write them in. Draw your own
box. Nothing. If you want to vote in those three primaries,
re-register and join that party. The last day to register online or switch your party
is February 18. If you missed the deadline, you can still register in person at your local
polling place. But not every party has a members-only policy. The Democratic, American Independent, and
Libertarian parties welcome people registered as No Party Preference (that’s people without
a political party) to vote in their primaries. But you have to request the ballot you want. If your registrar sent you a postcard, fill
it out and send it back. If you missed your county’s deadline or mistakenly got a ballot
without any presidential candidates on it, you can still call or email your county to
fix it. Or just ask for it if you vote in person. Which raises the question: “Why, why?” You’ll have to ask this guy why it’s so
complicated. That’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla. He oversees California’s elections. Audio from CapRadio interview [10:45]:
“When people are running for president of the United States, the political parties determine
the rules.” Parties play a major role in our democracy,
but they’re private clubs. So when it comes to picking their nominees or choosing delegates,
they set their own rules. They decide who gets to vote in their primary
and how much those votes count. That’s California primary voting in a nutshell. Remember, you can register to vote online
at any time until Feb 18 at Or you can register any time in person, including
on election day. Learn more at calmatters,org and by following
me on Twitter at FromBenC. For CalMatters, I’m Ben Christopher.

  1. I just want to point out if you are No Party Preference and want to vote in the primary,

    "The following parties…will allow No Party Preference voters to request their party’s presidential ballot in the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election:
    American Independent Party
    Democratic Party
    Libertarian Party"

    * I've seen it mentioned several times that you need to request a "crossover ballot" for the specific party you want to vote for. If you don't say those magic words, "crossover ballot", you may be told no or that you can only use the no party ballot. Only time will tell, but knowledge is power. 

    * Lastly, you may be registered for the American Independent Party thinking you are "independent" or "no party preference", but those are very different things. I urge you to research the American Independent Party and see if they are really the party you meant to sign up for. If not you need to re-register for your preferred party or as "no party preference".

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