Politics

Human Voter Guide: Everything you need to know about crossover ballots

California's primary election is June 7. May 31 is the last day to request vote by mail ballots, including crossover ballots.
California's primary election is June 7. May 31 is the last day to request vote by mail ballots, including crossover ballots.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

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Less than two weeks remain before California’s June 7 primary election and we're hearing from readers and listeners who are confused about using crossover ballots.

We've compiled some questions about those ballots along with our answers below.

This Human Voter Guide segment is the third in our series on Take Two. You can also read previous segments in the series.

If you have a question about voting or the elections, you can leave a voice mail or text at 323-538-5722. You can also leave your question in the comment box below or tweet it with the hashtag #humanvoterguide.

Q: What is a crossover ballot and who needs to use one?

First some background: if you are registered with a political party, you can vote for the candidates in that party. But if you're a registered voter not affiliated with a political party, then you're in the category known as "no party preference."

If you are a no party preference voter and want to vote for presidential candidates in the Democratic Party, Libertarian Party or the American Independent Party, you can do so by requesting what's called a crossover ballot.

But if you're classified as having no party preference and want to vote in the Republican presidential primary, you're out of luck. That primary is closed to voters like you. Only those who are registered as Republicans can participate and the deadline to re-register for the June 7 primary has passed.

You can check your voter registration status online here if you live in the County of Los Angeles and apply for a crossover vote by mail ballot.

If you live elsewhere, check with your county elections office or call the statewide voter help line: 1-800-345-VOTE. 

Q: I think I'm registered as an independent. Is that the same thing as "no party preference"?

No, they are different. There is no "independent" category in California. If you don't want to be affiliated with a political party, you should make sure you're registered as having no party preference.

Some people may have mistakenly signed up with the American Independent Party when registering to vote. This is a far-right political party that is against abortion and same sex marriage.

Q: If I’m signed up as having no party preference, did I need to fill out and mail a form to request a crossover ballot to vote on a Democratic ballot at my polling place? Or can I show up and request it there?

You can just show up at your polling place and request a crossover ballot when you arrive. The only time you need to worry about requesting a crossover ballot in advance is if you want to vote by mail.

If you do want to vote by mail with a crossover ballot, May 31 is the deadline to put in your request. 

May 31 is also the deadline to request a vote by mail ballot if you don’t want to go to the polls.
 
Q: My wife and I are registered as non-partisan voters but we use mail ballots. We have submitted a crossover request to allow us to vote by mail in the Democratic primary coming up, but have not received our mail ballots yet. If we do not get this mail ballot by the primary date, can we go to our local polling place, complete a crossover request and vote in person?
 
Yes, you can always go to any voting place in the county you live in and get a provisional ballot and vote in person.

You can also bring the vote by mail ballot that was mailed to you to your polling place. You can then surrender it for a regular ballot and cast a crossover ballot in person. 

Also, many crossover ballots are still being mailed out. Yours will likely still come in the mail. But if you have concerns, contact your local elections office. Contact information for local offices is available on the Secretary of State's website
 
Q: I'm a first-time poll worker. If a no party preference voter goes to the poll station and we don’t find their address, do they get a provisional ballot?

Yes. Anyone can show up and vote at any polling location on June 7 regardless of whether they’re on the voter rolls. The only guideline is that you have to go to a polling location within the county that you live in.

Poll workers will give out provisional ballots in those cases. Election officials will check those later to ensure that all ballots are valid. 

Series: Human Voter Guide

We're in the middle of one of the most contentious elections we've seen in a long time, so there's a lot of interest in voting this year. But there's also a lot of confusion. To help clear the way, we're introducing KPCC's Human Voter Guide, a series of questions-and-answers about the California elections.

Have a question? Email our senior political reporter Mary Plummer, tweet her @maryplummer or leave a voice mail or text at 323-538-5722.