Primary Election Ballot FAQs
1. What is my party preference?
When registering to vote, voters may select a preference for a qualified political party, a non-qualified party, or no party at all. The party preference in voters’ registration records determines which presidential candidates appear on their ballots in presidential primary elections.
Six political parties are qualified in California by the Secretary of State and can hold presidential primaries. Those parties are the American Independent, Democratic, Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, and Republican parties.
All qualified parties allow voters registered with their party to vote in the party’s contests, including presidential primaries and any county central committee/county council member contests.
You can check your current political party preference on the back of this pamphlet or online at sfelections.org/voterportal.
2. What are my options if I have no party preference?
Voters who registered without a preference for a qualified political party and who take no action will receive nonparty ballots, which include neither presidential primary contests nor any party contests such as county central committee contests.
In each primary election, some qualified parties allow voters with no party preference to vote in their presidential primary contests by requesting “crossover” ballots. For the March 3 election, those parties are the American Independent, Democratic, and Libertarian parties. A crossover ballot lists a party’s presidential primary contest but not the party’s county central committee contest, if any.
3. How can I request a crossover ballot?
If you are registered with no party preference, you may request a crossover ballot of the American Independent, Democratic, or Libertarian party in one of the following ways:
a. Call the Department of Elections at (415) 554-4375
b. Complete and submit the application on the back cover of this pamphlet
c. Go to sfelections.org/voterportal
d. Email SFVote [at] sfgov.org
e. Mail a request to 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Pl., Rm 48, SF, CA 94102 or fax to (415) 554-7344
f. Ask at a Voting Center or polling place.
4. What actions do I need to take to receive a different ballot?
If you are registered with a qualified political party but want to vote in the presidential primary contest or county central committee member contest of another party, you must reregister with the other party (see Question 5).
If you are registered with no party preference and receive a nonparty ballot in the mail but wish to vote a crossover ballot, you must contact the Department of Elections for a replacement ballot (see Question 3). You can also reregister with a qualified political party to vote a ballot with the presidential primary contest and county central committee member contest of that party.
To see customized options based on your party preference and the ballot you wish to receive, use the March 2020 Presidential Primary Ballot Tool at sfelections.org/myballot. The tool will provide your options to request a crossover ballot, if applicable, or to reregister before or after the deadline in order to receive the ballot of your choice.
5. How do I reregister or change my party preference?
Before February 18, the registration deadline, go to
registertovote.ca.gov or complete and return a paper registration form.
After February 18, visit a voting center or polling place in person to complete a paper form and vote a provisional ballot of your new party. Your provisional ballot will be counted after the Department of Elections processes your registration.
6. Which of the 10 sample ballots included in this pamphlet lists the contests I will see on my official ballot?
Please refer to the sample ballot that corresponds to your current party preference printed on the back cover of this pamphlet.
• If you are registered with preference for a qualified party, you are entitled to vote that party’s official ballot and should refer to that party’s sample ballot.
• If you are registered with no party preference, you are entitled to vote a nonparty ballot or a crossover ballot from the American Independent, Democratic, or Libertarian parties. You have four official ballots and four sample ballots to choose from.
7. I am registered with a party preference. Why is my party’s county central committee or county council contest not listed on my ballot?
Voters registered with the American Independent, Green, Libertarian, and Peace and Freedom parties, and those who are registered with the Republican Party and live in Assembly District 19, will not see county central committee or county council contests listed on their March 3 ballots. Those contests do not appear on the ballot because fewer candidates qualified than there are seats to be elected.
8. Where can I find more information about presidential primary elections and party preference?