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What you need to know to vote in California's 2024 Primary Election

Election season is here, and ballots have gone out to voters. With the recent rain, many voters in neighborhoods affected by flooding may not be able to receive their ballots. KPBS Reporter Alexander Nguyen has details on how those voters can cast their ballots.

San Diego is holding its presidential primary election on Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2024. Understanding the “who, what, where when and how” of voting can be daunting. KPBS researched answers to frequently asked voter questions.

The 2024 primary election is March 5. Find in-depth reporting on each race to help you understand what's on your ballot.

What is the primary election about?

Voters will weigh in on California’s statewide presidential primary election and can start voting early now with the last day to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, March 5. The primary is one of two elections this year, with the other one in November. It's also one of several happening around the country on March 5 — also known as Super Tuesday.

Presidential primary elections are typically held so political parties can elect a presidential candidate to run in the general election. For all other offices, the top two candidates who get the most votes, regardless of what political party they are from, will then run against each other in the fall on Nov. 5.

This year, voters will vote on the race for the White House and will get to pick who they want to run for president. Voters will also have a say in the U.S. Senate race to replace former Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died last year. Across San Diego County, dozens of elected officials are up for reelection including San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who is seeking to serve a second term. Gloria faces several challengers. In Chula Vista, city councilmember Andrea Cardenas, who is facing criminal charges and calls to resign, is also running for reelection. The top two vote-getters of these races and others will move on to runoff elections in November. Chula Vista residents will also cast their ballot in the race for Chula Vista city attorney. This is a runoff election and a continuation of a special election that took place because voters elected a dead candidate in the November 2022 race.

How do I register to vote?

You can register to vote or check your registration status online on the California Online Voter Registration page. In California, the last day to register to vote for any election is 15 days before election day. For the March 5 election, Tuesday, Feb. 20 is the deadline to register to vote.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters also provides opportunities to register to vote or obtain information in person at events throughout the county. You can check the Registrar of Voters community calendar for more information on events here.

Same day voter registration is also possible. If you miss the deadline to register to vote you can still vote until election day. You can learn more here.

➡ To register online you will need the following:

  • Your state driver's license or identification card number
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • Your date of birth

How do I vote in a specific party's presidential primary?

If you want to vote in the presidential primary, first check your registration. Your ballot will only show the candidates in the political party you registered for.

Nonpartisan voters, also known as “independent” or “no party preference” can vote for a candidate with the American Independent Party, Democratic Party or the Libertarian Party by requesting a crossover ballot. And if you want to vote for a candidate in the Green Party, Peace and Freedom Party or the Republican Party, you will have to re-register with one of these political parties. More information is available here.


How can I vote by mail?

All active registered voters will begin to receive vote-by-mail ballots on the week of Feb. 3. Voting in person will begin as early as Feb. 5 at the Registrar of Voters' office located at 5600 Overland Ave, San Diego, CA 92123. And you can start dropping off your ballot on Feb. 6.

➡ 'Inactive' registered voters

Voters will be given an inactive status when a "county elections official receives information (for example, from the post office) indicating the voter has moved out of state or mail is returned undeliverable without a forwarding address."

You can submit your ballot by:

1. Mailing your ballot to a county elections office.

  • Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than seven days after Election Day.
  • If you are not sure your vote-by-mail ballot will arrive in time, bring it to any Voter Center or ballot drop-off location between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8 p.m. on Election Day.

2. Dropping your ballot off at a drop-off location or into a ballot drop box in the county.

  • Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered to a ballot drop-off location must be delivered no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

3. Authorizing someone to return the ballot on your behalf.

  • Anyone may return your ballot for you, as long as they do not get paid on a per-ballot basis. In order for your ballot to be counted, you must fill out the authorization section found on the outside of your ballot envelope.


What if I want to vote in person?

Some vote centers will open for early voting starting Feb. 24 and will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through March 4. Then on Election Day, March 5, all vote centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Locations will offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines and language assistance. Voters can vote at any vote center in the county.

When will voter guides be sent out?

The state's voter guide is available online here. You can look up your county voter information pamphlet here.

For KPBS' nonpartisan guide, visit the KPBS Voter Hub.