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Why Millions of Californians May Not See Any Presidential Candidates On Their Mail Ballots


Californians registered as “no party preference” that vote by mail can vote in the Democratic Presidential primary. But those non-partisan voters must request that ballot, otherwise they’ll receive one without the candidates. Cards notifying voters of that choice were sent out already and the deadline to reply has passed.

Sacramento-based political data expert Paul Mitchell conducted a survey showing that about two-thirds of absentee voters who want to vote in the Democratic presidential primary don’t know that.

“Voters who have gotten used to seeing the open primary and know that they can vote in the Democratic primary because they are ‘declined to state,’ are going to be getting a ballot with no presidential candidates on it and be confused, 'Where’s Hillary? Where’s Bernie?” says Mitchell.

Neal Kelley with the Orange County Registrar of Voters says there are other options for absentee no party preference voters.

“Every county in California has a system set up so that a voter who has already received a ballot can request a second one," says Kelley. "They destroy the first one and the second one comes in the mail to them.”

The deadline for that process is May 31st. Otherwise they must vote in person.

"There is a little bit of back and forth," says Kelley. "The reality is that if they saw that card the first time, it's pretty easy. It's straightforward. But there are going to be some groups of people who miss that and it will cause a little bit of confusion."

If no party preference voters forget to bring their mail-in ballot to the polls and want to vote in the presidential primary, they’ll receive a provisional ballot.

No party preference voters are not allowed to vote in the GOP primary.

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