Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with the hope that it would lead to the formation of a nationwide, presidential primary.
“It’s very disappointing,” she said. “Now it seems that our presidential primary could be decided by Iowa.”
But now California, the biggest prize of the state primaries, could be exactly that: the deciding factor in which presidential candidate receives the Democratic nomination.
The primary will be held June 5, when all voters in the state can cast ballots — as long as they have voter registration cards and forms of identification showing that they live in California or were born there. But there’s a catch.
In order to be eligible to vote in that primary, you will need to have either:
• registered as a Democrat in California at any time during the 45-day period before the primary
• voted in a primary in California in 2018
• also participated in one of the three “virtual” primaries that the California secretary of state will hold on primary day, or received a mail-in ballot before that time
If you fit any of those criteria, you should definitely be checking your voter registration status.
And it’s not just Democrats who are doing that — many voters, especially Democrats, could be confused about the voting rules on June 5, or they will find out the hard way that it’s not too late to change their registration and become a registered Democrat before the primary. The deadline for that registration to take effect in order to vote on June 5 was Nov. 1.
Once you register as a Democrat in California, you will be eligible to vote on June 5.
Many California voters — Lee said in her experience, “probably 75 percent of voters are not registered Democrats” — could still wind up being in the wrong place on election day, as only a few polling places are in their actual geographic area. Those places will have representatives at the polling places on June 5 to help voters who are new to California and aren’t sure where to go.
“If they have not registered yet, they will vote at one of the state-approved poll locations,” said Los Angeles County’s registrar-recorder/county clerk Neal Kelley.
The outreach effort will include more than 4,000 volunteers across California — including 1,600 in Los Angeles County — who will try to educate voters and explain how to vote.
Voters should beware of robo-calls, text messages and phone calls they get that claim to be part of the effort.
“They’re really spam,” Kelley said. “It’s designed to mislead and confuse people.”
Still, some voters may get more complex questions: “Who are they directing me to vote for?” Lee said. “‘Are they telling me you can’t vote for (them) if you’re not registered yet?’”
Party officials have tried to minimize confusion and set forth, for the most part, the rules of the state primaries. But being a new party in California isn’t easy, Kelley said.
After the primary is over, if you are still in a Democrat primary race, you’ll know whether your opponent has won a majority of delegates and will have a better idea of whether it’s feasible to try and regain your spot on the ticket. But if you are in the primary, you’ll know nothing about it and be left in the dark about whether you’re still in the race.
“We don’t even know who we’re going to be fighting for,” Lee said.
For the time being, Lee said, she is staying in the race.
“I’m still planning on raising money and raising awareness, and moving forward,” she said.
Read more about voting on June 5.
Read more about Californians’ California Primary.