By Miriam Raftery
April 27, 2016 (San Diego) -- California’s presidential primary election is coming up June 7th. But many Californians may be surprised to learn that they can’t vote for presidential candidates or those running for other high offices, due to confusion over the rules. Fortunately there’s still time to take action—and cast your vote for the candidate of your choice.
If you requested a mail-in ballot, but you’re registered as a decline-to-state voter and not in any political party, then none of the presidential candidates’ names will appear on your ballot. You also won’t be able to vote for other partisan offices such as the U.S. Senate or Congress.
If you want to vote for presidential candidates in the June 7th primary and you are a decline to state voter, you can contact the Registrar of Voters to request a new ballot, even if you already received one without the candidates’ names. Decline to state voters are allowed to vote in the Democratic primary, but only if you request a Democratic ballot. Similarly, decline to state voters can request Libertarian and American Independent Party ballots, since these three parties allow open primary voting.
But if you want to cast your vote for a Republican candidate, or for a Green Party or Peace and Freedom Party candidate, you’ll have to join their political party, since these parties hold closed primaries.
Many voters also mistakenly believe that registering “Independent” means decline to state party affiliation, but that’s not true. The American Independent Party is actually a conservative right-wing political party, much to the surprise of many moderate and liberal voters who checked off the “independent” party box when they registered to vote.
Also, it’s a good idea to visit www.SDVOTE.com to check and make sure you are still listed as a registered vote. Around 150,000 names have been removed from the voter rolls because they haven’t voted in recent elections, moved, or had mail sent to their address by the Registrar returned as undeliverable.
The decline to register to vote, or to change your political party affiliation, is May 23rd.