League of Women Voters of California League of Women Voters of California Education Fund  
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...Connecting People with Government
2004 Elections

This newsletter was emailed to our Smart Voter News distribution list on February 10, 2004:

Whom Can I Vote For in the March Primary -- or
How Open is this Primary, Anyway?!

If you plan to register or change your voter registration, February 17 is the deadline for delivering or postmarking your form. Read on for more details.

California currently has a modified closed primary system.

If you are registered with a political party, your ballot will include your party's candidates for federal and state offices as well as four statewide propositions and probably some contests and measures in your county.

If you are not registered with a political party ("decline to state" or "unaffiliated"), you may participate in a party's primary election if that party allows unaffiliated voters to do so. For this election, an unaffiliated voter may request and vote a ballot for these parties:

  • American Independent
  • Democratic (all candidates except county central committees)
  • Republican (all candidates except Presidential and county central committee candidates).

Unaffiliated voters who go to the polls must ask for one of the three parties' ballots if they do not want a ballot for nonpartisan offices and measures only. Poll workers are not obligated to inform unaffiliated voters that they have a choice of ballot.

To see the various ballot choices, use Smart Voter's "Find My Ballot" function and select the possible "Decline to State" options.

Decide which ballot you want to vote - a nonpartisan or a party ballot. You may need to change your voter registration if you want a particular party's ballot. Fill out a voter registration card (available at city halls, post offices, libraries, and online) and mark the political party of your choice. The registration card must be delivered to your county's Elections Office or be postmarked by the February 17, 2004 deadline.

Permanent absentee voters who are unaffiliated will receive a letter from their Elections Office asking if they want to vote one of the three parties' ballots. Unaffiliated voters requesting an absentee ballot just for the March election should also request a party's ballot if they do not want just the nonpartisan ballot.

Web site Resources:

Smart Voter's "Find My Ballot" by Party: http://smartvoter.org/

League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Voter Registration
Cost to Register
How to Register to Vote
What is your Residence?
Re-Registering to Vote
How often do you have to Register?
Voting by Mail and Overseas
Political Parties
Registration Drives

Secretary of State On-line Voter Registration


Copyright © 2004 League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.

The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.