CA Primary Election June 5th and What You Need to Know

As manager of The Greenlining Institute’s Our Democracy program, I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year traveling around California and talking to voters from underserved communities. In those conversations, I’ve found that much in our electoral process is confusing and frustrating to voters.

Important changes in our state’s primary election process kick in for the first time this year, so pay attention! Here is what you need to know:

  1. You should have already received your voter guide by mail. If you're registered and have not received it, you can request one from the California Secretary of State. has more information about elections by county.
  2. We have a new primary system. In 2010, California voters approved Proposition 14, which created the Top Two Open Primary Act. Candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, State Senate, Assembly, Governor, and other partisan offices, will now appear on one ballot. Regardless of what political party you are registered with, you will see the names of each candidate on your ballot and you will be able to cast a vote for ONE candidate for each office. For example, if you are a registered Republican, you can now cast a vote for a Green party candidate, or any other candidate from any party. Voters will not be limited to candidates who are registered with their own political party, except for President and Party Central Committee offices. Alameda County has some great information about the Top Two Open Primary Act.
  3. It is called “top two” because the top two vote-getters in June will move on to the November election. This could result in some Democrat vs. Democrat or Republican vs. Republican races in some districts. But it does not mean you can vote for two candidates! Vote for just one for each office or your vote will be thrown out.

You can make a difference. Get out and vote! Then tell us about your experience. The Greenlining Institute is hosting a series of community input events for you to share your experience using the voter guide. Your feedback will help us improve voter information in the future. Please join Greenlining at one of these events:

You can RSVP to Michelle at or 510-926-4014.

Michelle Romero is a Program Manager with the Claiming our Democracy Initative @ The Greenling Institute