How to Vote in the California Democratic Primary for President as an Independent or a Democrat3 min read


With a potentially close Presidential primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in California it is important that independent voters—those who are not registered in a political party—know that they can vote in the Democratic primary and how they can do so.

If you are a registered Democrat, it’s easy—you will get a Democratic ballot to vote.

If you are an Independent (Not Registered with a Party)

You can vote in the Democratic Primary for President—but you have to ask for a Democratic ballot—otherwise, all you get is one that lists the ballot propositions.

If you have requested a vote by mail ballot, and have not requested a Democratic ballot, bring your ballot to the polling place on election day, tell the poll worker that you want a Democratic ballot instead, surrender your old one to the poll worker, and get and vote your Democratic presidential primary ballot.

If you are showing up at your precinct—to vote in person on Election Day (the old fashioned way) without having requested a vote by mail ballot, all you have to do is to request the poll worker give you a Democratic ballot. The poll workers will not offer you a Democratic ballot; you MUST ask for it.

For All Voters

If you cannot find your vote by mail ballot, you may go to your polling place and tell the poll worker that you do not have it and they will give you a “provisional” ballot, one that will be accepted and then counted later. However you must sign a statement under penalty of perjury that you lost, destroyed or did not receive the first vote-by-mail ballot. If you vote twice by vote-by-mail ballot, even if by mistake, neither ballot will be counted.

If you experience any voting irregularities or encounter any difficulty in casting your vote on Tuesday, you can call the Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-345-VOTE(8683).

And if you have any questions or problems, you can always contact the California Democratic Party headquarters at 1-916-442-5707.

Remember, in order to be counted, an elections official in your county of residence must receive your ballot no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Bring your ballot to the elections office or to any worker at a polling place within your county of residence. Ballots received after the polls close on Election Day cannot be counted regardless of postmarks.

I would not chance it with the mails at this point. Turn it in in person.

Also remember that you have to sign the vote-by-mail ballot return envelope. The elections official, by comparing the signature on the vote-by-mail ballot return envelope to the signature on your voter registration card, can determine that you are the authorized voter. This is an important protection for you. Your signature will not allow anyone to determine how you voted. To preserve the secrecy of your ballot, once your signature has been verified, the ballot is separated from the envelope and the ballot becomes as anonymous and secret as any other ballot.

If you are ill, or have a physical disability, you may give your voted vote-by-mail ballot to a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister or a person residing in the same household as the vote-by-mail-voter to return your voted ballot for you. Your designated person may return it in person to the election office or to a polling place in your county, or may place it in the mail for return to the elections official. Contact your county elections official for more information.


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