California Online Voter Guide 2002 -- A Project of the California Voter Foundation

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About This Election

  About this Election
  What's on the Ballot
  The new "slightly ajar" Primary
  Getting Started

About this Election

On Tuesday, March 5, 2002, millions of Californians will head to the polls to cast ballots in hundreds of contests. Polls open at 7 a.m., and close at 8 p.m. Voters who aren't sure they can make it to the polls should sign up to get an absentee ballot so they can vote by mail. For more information about voting in California, see the California Voter Foundation's "Voting Questions and Answers".

What's on the Ballot?

California's 2002 Primary ballot includes six statewide propositions as well as contests for eight statewide offices, 53 congressional seats, and 100 state legislative seats. Depending on where you live and when your city or county conducts elections, you may have local races and measures on your ballot as well.

The new "slightly ajar" Primary

The purpose of a primary election is to allow voters to select the candidates who will be their party's nominees in the November 5, 2002 General Election.

The rules for participating in California's primary have changed once again, following a Supreme Court decision that overturned California's once open, or "blanket" primary system, enacted by voters in 1996 and in effect for the
1998 and 2000 elections.

Now, a California voter will only be able to vote for partisan candidates of the party to which the voter is registered. So if you are registered as a Republican you will get a Republican ballot, if you are a Democrat you will get a Democratic ballot, etc.

The one exception are so-called "independent" voters, who select "decline to state" when they register to vote and thus are unaffiliated with any political party. "Decline to state" voters, who make up approximately 15 percent of California's
electorate, will be able to choose a partisan ballot from any of the four California political parties that are permitting "decline to state" voters to participate in their primaries. Those four parties include the California Democratic Party, California Republican Party, Natural Law Party of California, and American Independent Party.

Voters who wish to change their party affiliation to unaffiliated can do so by filling out a new voter registration form and checking the box "decline to state". (Keep in mind that the deadline for changing your party affiliation or re-registering in time for the March 5, 2002 election was February 19th.)

Getting Started

Every registered voter should receive an Official Sample Ballot in the mail, which is sent to you by your county election office. This booklet includes an application for an absentee ballot, and tells you which political districts you live in and where your polling place is located. California voters also receive an official Voter Information Guide from the Secretary of State that features information on the state propositions and statements by statewide candidates. These two official booklets provide the basic information you need to prepare to vote. If you haven't received these booklets in the mail, contact your local county election office.

This page first published February 26, 2002 -- final update May 10, 2002