California Voter Foundation Logo


California Primary Election Preview

February 11, 2004

Hi everyone,

In less than three weeks, millions of Californians will head to the polls and cast ballots in this year's Presidential Primary election.

This edition of CVF-NEWS provides a review of important dates and resources available to help California voters prepare to vote on Tuesday, March 2.

The CVF staff is hard at work preparing to debut the tenth edition of CVF's California Online Voter Guide, as well as a new site redesign. Look for our new site to appear this Friday at It's possible our email may be delayed during the transition to our new site - your patience during this upgrade is appreciated.

On a personal note, this month marks my ten-year anniversary with the California Voter Foundation. My thanks and gratitude go out to all the people, and especially to our board and staff, who have made my time with CVF such a rewarding experience.

-- Kim Alexander, President, California Voter Foundation

California Primary Election Preview:

* What's On the Ballot

There are two major contests at the "top of the ticket" -- the Democratic Presidential Primary nomination, and the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. The winner of the Democratic Presidential primary will face incumbent President George W. Bush, and the winner of the Republican U.S. Senate contest will face incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer in November.

There are four statewide measures on the ballot -- Propositions 55, 56, 57 and 58. All voters, regardless of party affiliation, will have an opportunity to vote on these measures.

There are also primary contests in legislative and congressional districts. All 80 State Assembly seats are up for election, as well as all 53 of California's congressional seats. Half of the 40 State Senate seats are up as well.

Voters in many counties will also be casting ballots in local races for offices such as mayor, city council and county supervisor, as well as votes for or against numerous county, city and special district measures.

* Voter Guides

Voters are receiving three voter guides in the mail from election officials. The Secretary of State has mailed the Official Voter Information Guide, which provides information on Propositions 55 and 56, as well as information about other election-related topics such as absentee voting and the new "Voter Bill of Rights". A Supplemental Guide has also been mailed out, covering propositions 57 and 58, which were added to the ballot too late to be included in the first voter guide. County elections offices are also mailing voters their official "Sample Ballot" which shows voters the specific contests, including local races and measures, that will appear on their ballots.

* CVF's Election Preview

CVF's new California Online Voter Guide will feature in-depth information on California measures and contests and links to official campaign web sites. In the meantime, CVF's "Election Preview" provides links to helpful online resources from CVF and others about the election, including a "Voting Q&A", political district maps, and contact information for county election offices. CVF's Election Preview is online at

* Recommended Nonpartisan Resources

Several organizations are providing excellent nonpartisan voter education resources. CVF recommends the Easy Voter Guide, at, the League of Women Voters' Smart Voter site,, Project Vote Smart,, and the Secretary of State's "My Vote Counts" site,

* Crossover Voting

Voters who are registered "decline to state" and are unaffiliated with any political party can request and vote a partisan ballot from those parties that will allow crossover voting -- for this election those parties are the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the American Independent party. However, the two major parties are restricting the races in which crossover voters can vote: the Republican party will not count crossover ballots in the Presidential contest, and the Democratic party will not count crossover ballots cast in county central committee contests.

" Decline to state" voters, while allowed to cast partisan ballots, must request those ballots at the polling place or in their absentee ballot request forms. If "decline to state" voters do not request a partisan ballot, they will be given a nonpartisan ballot.

* Voter Registration

The last day to register to vote for the March 2 election is February 17. If you are already registered to vote and you haven't moved there's no need to re-register. However, if you want to vote in a primary contest of a party other than the one to which you are registered, you must re-register with that party or re-register as "decline to state".

* Absentee Voting

Voters who wish to vote absentee may request an absentee ballot by completing the form on the back of the official Sample Ballot provided by their county elections official. Applications for absentee ballots must be received by county election offices no later than Tuesday, February 24. Absentee ballots can be returned by mail, or can be dropped off at any polling place within your county on Election Day.

* Voting Systems

California's 58 counties will use three different types of voting systems in March:

To see which counties will be using which systems, as well as a comparison map showing the change in voting systems since the October 2003 recall election, see

Site Map | Privacy Policy | About

This page was first published on February 12, 2004 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
Copyright California Voter Foundation, All Rights Reserved.