Capitol Alert

Want to vote Republican for president in California? You can’t be registered ‘decline to state’

California 5.6 million “no party preference” voters won’t get to vote in the Republican presidential primary election next year.

The California Secretary of State’s Office announced Monday that three parties will have primaries open to those who listed their political affiliation as “no party preference:” the Democratic Party, the Libertarian Party and the American Independent Party.

The Republican Party, the Green Party and the Peace and Freedom Party require voters to be registered with their party in order to vote in their primaries. They do not allow so-called cross-over voting.

“As we enter the fifth election cycle under the ‘Top Two Primary’ system, California voters have become increasingly accustomed to voting for the candidates of their choice regardless of political party preference,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in prepared remarks. “The presidential primary, however, remains the exception. Voters registered as ‘no party preference’ have the option of requesting a ballot that includes presidential candidates of a political party that allows ‘cross-over’ voting.”

The number of “No Party Preference” voters has risen 26 percent, more than 1.5 million people, since the 2016 presidential primary election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The primary election is scheduled for March 3. Vote-by-mail begins on Feb. 3. The deadline for the state to receive Election Day-postmarked ballots is March 6.

If you are registered as “No Party Preference,” you will be sent a postcard from your county elections office allowing you to choose which party primary you wish to vote in. A crossover voting ballot also may be requested by phone, email or fax or by visiting a polling place in person.

Voters registered with a political party must vote in that party’s primary or re-register their party preference.

You can verify your voter registration by visiting You can change your political party by re-registering at

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.