Elections in California
In 2010, California voters approved Proposition 14, which created a “top two” or “open” primary election system. The passage of this proposition changed how elections for state constitutional and legislative offices and U.S. congressional offices are conducted in California. These offices are now known as “voter-nominated” offices.
What does this mean for voters in the November 2018 general election?
In the general election for a voter-nominated office:
• Only the two candidates who received the most votes in the primary election - regardless of party preference - move on to the general election.
• Write-in candidates are not permitted, but, if a qualified write-in candidate had been one of the two candidates who received the most votes in the primary election, his or her name would be printed on the general election ballot.
• There is no independent nomination process.
The voter-nominated offices on the November ballot are:
• Lieutenant Governor
• Attorney General
• Insurance Commissioner
• Board of Equalization Member
• United States Senate
• United States Representative
• State Senator (in some districts, but not San Francisco)
• State Assembly Member
The Superintendent of Public Instruction contest also appears on the November ballot. This is a nonpartisan office. The contests for local San Francisco offices are also nonpartisan.
What does “party preference” mean?
Party preference refers to the political party with which the candidate or the voter is registered.
If a candidate for a voter-nominated office has a preference for a qualified political party, the party is printed by the candidate’s name on the ballot, as required by law. If a candidate does not have a preference for a qualified political party, “Party Preference: None” is printed by the candidate’s name.
The candidate’s party preference does not imply that the candidate is endorsed by that party. Political parties may endorse candidates for voter-nominated offices; any party endorsements received by the Department of Elections by the submission deadline are listed here.
The party preference, if any, of a candidate for a nonpartisan office does not appear on the ballot.
How can I find out with which party I am registered?
• Go to sfelections.org/reglookup, or
• Call (415) 554-4375.
How can I change my party preference?
To change your party preference, complete and submit a voter registration card. You have several options:
• Register online at registertovote.ca.gov
• Request that a registration card be mailed to you by contacting the Department of Elections through sfelections.org or calling (415) 554-4375, or
• Fill out a registration card in person at the Department of Elections in City Hall, Room 48.
Where can I find more information about California’s election system?
For more information about California’s election system, refer to the Official Voter Information Guide, produced by the California Secretary of State, or visit sos.ca.gov.