California Primary: Vote-By-Mail Registered Nonpartisans need to request a party ballot

Californians Permanent Vote By Mail? Registered Nonpartisan?Want to cast a vote in the 2020 Presidential Primary? You gotta fill out and return a postcard to your county registrar of voters.

Five Things you need to know if you are a California Voter, according to this LA Times story.

  1. Over 15 million California voters will receive VBM — Vote By Mail —ballots.
  2. Roughly 30% of CA voters are registered nonpartisan.
  3. NPP voters need to request a party ballot. Easy to do at the polls, a little harder for VBM voters.
  4. NPP VBM voters were sent a postcard from their county registrar with instructions to request a party crossover ballot.
  5. Though the “deadline” has passed, it’s not to late to return the postcard.  You can request a party crossover ballot up to Feb 25.

Paul Mitchell, the VP of Political Data Inc. and Jessica A. Levinson, Loyola Law School Professor penned this LA Times op-ed to get the word out to No Party Preference (NPP) voters so they’ll get a cross-over ballot.

If you are a nonpartisan voter, you may request a ballot from the Democratic, Libertarian or American Independent parties. Only those three parties allow nonpartisan voters to “cross over” into their primary elections. You cannot ask for a crossover ballot to vote in the Republican presidential primary, because that party’s leaders closed their primary to nonpartisan voters.

If you are a nonpartisan voter who votes the old-fashioned way, at a polling place, you only need to ask your poll worker for a presidential ballot that includes the Democratic, Libertarian or American Independent candidates. But if you are set to receive your ballot in the mail, you will have to complete and return a postcard you should have received from your county registrar.

There’s a bit of a Voter UI issue here, though.

If you’re NPP, do you know it? “Polling by Capitol Weekly shows that 17% of nonpartisan voters believe they are registered Democrats and another 7% think they are registered Republicans.” Given the state’s population, 17% of 30% of voters is a big number. (I’m a registered Democrat, and the Democratic Presidential Primary is where real decision making will take place.) Don’t know if you are a NPP voter?  Check your registration here: https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/ 

What is the postcard return deadline, anyway? The postcards sent to NPP VBM voters say to return them by December 20 or December 31 of last year. I’ll take a guess for those early dates. Vote by Mail ballots are to be mailed to voters from Feb 3-8. The early date to ask for a crossover ballot is to ensure that a voter gets a crossover ballot when those are sent. It. is. not. too. late. 

If one of these postcards is sitting on your kitchen counter and the return date has passed, just send it in. Despite the “deadlines” on the postcards, the [LA County] registrar will accept requests for crossover ballots up to seven days before the March 3 election, making Feb. 25 the actual deadline for requests. The request can even be made online. [for LA County voters]

The above paragraph, being published in the LA Times, focuses on LA County. What about all the other counties?

The California Secretary of State is ON IT.

Just as I went to check out info, I saw a tweet from the Alex Padilla, the California Secretary of State, announcing a website for all Californians: howtovoteforpresident.sos.ca.gov. It covers the NPP postcard process.

I’ve put in a request to Paul Mitchell for a link to online request forms for other counties in California and will update this post when I hear back.

update. Orange County Registrar of Voters has a page addressing this. (via tweet from OC Registrar)


Acronym Soup guide. So many acronyms. So much confusion.

  • NPP — No Party Preference (formerly Decline to State)
  • VBM — Vote by Mail. Also referred to as PVBM, Permanent Vote By Mail
  • UI — User Interface