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
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
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.)
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