A law signed this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to make it easier for California voters to make last-minute changes to their address and party affiliation leading up to and on the day of the state’s March 3 primary.
Californians are already allowed to register, update their address and even change parties through Election Day. But this new law — Senate Bill 207, authored by Democratic Sen. Melissa Hurtado of the Fresno area — allows voters to make these changes without having to fill out full voter registration forms.
Instead, they can fill out shorter versions at polling places and vote centers that supporters hope will cut down on long lines on election day.
“We’re very concerned about that,” said Santa Barbara Registrar of Voters Joe Holland, who is also president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials. “California has never had lines like we experienced in 2018 (during the midterm election). So, that’s why we really wanted to make some differences to try and speed things up.”
More than 5 million Californians are registered as No Party Preference. They are prohibited by party rules from voting in the primary for Republican, Green or Peace and Freedom candidates unless they re-register as one of those parties.
“With all indicators pointing to a high turnout for the March 3 Presidential Primary, county elections officials now have a new tool to provide an efficient, positive experience for California voters,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla added in a news release.
To vote for a Democratic candidate, No Party Preference voters must request a Democratic Party ballot, but do not need to switch party affiliation.
Some Republican lawmakers, including Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, opposed the bill.
"The recent stories surrounding the flawed Motor Voter law have already decreased voter confidence in correct party affiliation," Grove said in a statement. "Although SB 207 provides some clarity to voters as to how they can change their address or party affiliation, it does not provide the necessary safeguards to ensure residents are voting in their correct districts."
To register to vote, re-register or check your registration status, visit registertovote.ca.gov. A complete guide for how to vote for president in the California primary is at HowToVoteForPresident.sos.ca.gov.
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