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Smart Voter What's New in the March 2004 California Primary?
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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 races and measures in your county.

If you are not registered with a political party ("decline to state" or "unaffiliated"), you may participate in a partyís 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 those for county central committees), or
  • 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 our "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.


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