Voting for President? Make Sure Ballot has Option You Want

Presidential Primary Election graphic

The San Diego County Registrar’s office is sending nearly 1.8 million postcards to the County’s registered voters in the coming weeks to let you know that your political party registration determines which presidential primary candidates will appear on your March 3, 2020 primary election ballot.

So – who can you vote for? It depends on how you’ve registered. All registered voters fall under one of two categories.

  1. Registered with a Political Party

If you are registered with one of the six political parties in California, your ballot will list only that party’s presidential primary candidates. You can vote only for that party’s presidential candidates.

If your party registration is different from the party of the presidential primary candidate you want to vote for, you will need to register to vote with that party.

  1. Registered as Nonpartisan

If you are registered as nonpartisan (also known as independent or no party preference), your March 3 ballot will not list the presidential primary contest or candidates. More than 550,000 voters in San Diego County are registered as nonpartisan. If you are one of them, you can take steps now to vote for a presidential candidate in the primary.

  • Political Parties Allowing Nonpartisan Voters to Cross Over

This year, the American Independent, Democratic and Libertarian parties are allowing nonpartisan voters to take part in their presidential primary elections.

But nonpartisan voters must request one of these three parties’ ballots to vote for that party’s presidential primary candidate. Selecting one of these three parties’ ballots will not register you with that party. You will remain a nonpartisan voter.

More than 300,000 nonpartisan voters are also permanent mail ballot voters. If you are one, you will get a postcard asking you to let the Registrar’s office know your choice of party ballot before Jan. 6, so it is included in the first mailing of mail ballots going out the week of Feb. 11. Otherwise, you will receive the nonpartisan ballot, which will not include the presidential contest.

Also note that the Democratic Party is allowing nonpartisan voters to vote in its presidential contest but not its central committee contest. If requested, you will receive the nonpartisan version of the Democratic ballot.

  • Political Parties Not Allowing Nonpartisan Voters to Crossover

This year, the Green, Peace and Freedom and Republican Parties have closed their presidential primary to nonpartisan voters.

That means you need to be registered with one of those parties to vote for their primary election presidential candidates. Nonpartisan voters will not be able to select one of these ballots. Nonpartisan voters who want one of these parties’ ballots will need to re-register with that party.

No matter what your party preference, all registered voters will be allowed to vote on nonpartisan contests and voter-nominated offices, such as U.S. congressional offices and state legislative offices. The top two vote-getters in voter-nominated contests will advance to the November general election.

Not sure how you are registered or if you are registered to vote? You can check your registration, re-register and register to vote at sdvote.com. The Registrar’s office encourages you to do so well before Feb. 18, 2020 to avoid long delays on Election Day.

For more information, call (858) 565-5800 or visit sdvote.com. You can find additional resources about the upcoming election here.

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact