Originally published May 9, 2012 at 10:30 a.m., updated May 9, 2012 at 2:46 p.m.
Deborah Seiler, San Diego County Registrar of Voters
How The Open Primary Works
Aside from presidential candidates, all candidates running, regardless of their party preference, will appear on a single combined ballot, and voters can vote for any candidate from any political party.
Only the two candidates who receive the highest and second-highest number of votes in the primary will appear on the ballot as candidates in the General Election in November.
The “Top-Two Primary Act” changes the way elections are conducted for all statewide offices including:
--Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer
--Controller, Insurance Commissioner, Board of Equalization, U.S. Representatives
--State Senator, State Assembly, U.S. Senator, Attorney General
The “Top-Two Primary Act” would not affect the election of president and party-nominated committees. Non-partisan offices such as judges, schools, special districts, municipalities and the superintendent of public instruction would remain open to all eligible voters.
For the first time ever, Republicans and Democrats will see virtually the same ballot when they head to the voting booths this June 5, said Deborah Seiler, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.
That's because California will have an open primary for the first time, which means Democrats can vote for Republicans and Republicans can vote for Democrats. But, the party ballots won't look exactly the same.
"Your ballot will be a separate Democratic ballot or Republican ballot or other party ballot if you're registered with that party," Seiler said.
The reason for the separate ballots, she said, is because of the presidential primary. Only Democrats and nonpartisans can vote in the Democrat primary, and only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican party.
Otherwise, the rest of the ballots will look the same.
Races for some seats are "top-two primaries," which means the two candidates with the highest numbers of voters automatically move on to the general election, even if one candidate receives the majority of the votes, Seiler said. That means some races - for example, the race for the 52nd Congressional District - could see two Democrats facing each other in the general election.
In other nonpartisan races - for example, those for mayor, county supervisor and city council - if one candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote in the primary, he or she will win the election outright, Seiler said. If no one gets 50 percent or more of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters will move on to the general election.
Seiler's office sent out more than 700,000 mail-in ballots this week and is receiving ballots back already. However, those ballots won't be counted until 10 days before the election and no results will be released until after polls close June 5.
People can still register to vote through May 21, and can request mail-in ballots through May 29, Seiler said.