California Elections

A procrastinator’s guide to the California Senate District 1 special election primary: Who’s running?

Election Day for the special primary for California Senate District 1 is almost here.

The district, which spans across much of California’s northeastern corner, was vacated by Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, earlier this year after he won a seat on the state Board of Equalization in November.

Still don’t know who to vote for in the Tuesday election? Didn’t register to vote in time for the deadline?

Here’s what you need to know:

Who’s running?

Five candidates are running for the seat: a lone Democrat, Silke Pflueger, and four Republicans, Assemblyman Brian Dahle of Bieber, Theodore Dziuba, Rex Hime and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Rocklin.

Steve Baird is not running for the seat. Though his name appears on the ballot, he dropped out last month.

Read more about the candidates in our past coverage

Who can vote in this primary?

Eligible voters living in the following counties: Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou.

As well as parts of: Placer County (Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Loomis and Rocklin) and Sacramento County (Folsom, Orangevale and Fair Oaks).

What if I didn’t register in time?

You can still conditionally register as a voter up until Election Day and submit a provisional ballot that will be processed after your registration is verified.

A list of county elections offices and designated satellite locations where you can conditionally register and vote can be found at

Don’t know if you’re registered? Check your status on the California Secretary of State website at

I’m registered but didn’t get a mail-in ballot. What now?

On Tuesday, March 26, polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Your polling place is listed on the back page of the sample ballot booklet your county elections office mailed to you, according to the California Secretary of State website.

Don’t have the booklet? Call the Secretary of State’s toll-free voter hotline at 800-345-8683, or contact your county elections office at

You can also find your polling place based on the county you live in online on the Secretary of State’s website here:

I got a mail-in ballot and filled it out. What now?

You can mail your ballot so long as it’s postmarked on or before Election Day and your county elections office receives it no later than three days after Election Day.

You can also submit it at a vote-by-mail ballot drop-off location. Find the nearest one in your county at

When is the general election?

If no special primary candidate wins a majority of the vote, a special general election will be held June 4.

California uses a “top-two” system, meaning the two candidates who get the most votes, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election.

But if a candidate in a special primary election for a legislative or congressional office receives more than 50 percent of the vote, that person is declared the winner and a special general election is not held.

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Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks covers Sacramento County and the cities and suburbs beyond the capital. She’s previously worked at The New York Times and NPR, and is a former Bee intern. She graduated from UC Berkeley, where she was the managing editor of The Daily Californian.
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