For Bay Area residents who are registered independent, libertarian, or "no party preference," you won't be able to vote by mail in the Democratic primary on March 3 unless you specifically request to receive a Democratic ballot. Instead, your ballot will come in the mail with no presidential race on it.
This has been a point of contention and confusion for some voters going back several months. And it could be a significant issue for voter turnout especially given that candidates like Bernie Sanders — who is himself an independent but who is running for the Democratic ticket — are relying heavily on California primary votes to make a case for the party's nomination.
And it's a big deal because this is the first time in many years that Super Tuesday, the primary election date that California usually gets lumped into, falls so early in the primary race — typically our millions of votes don't count for squat in primary contests, and that is unfair. But this year they will!
As John Arntz, director of the San Francisco Department of Elections, tells the Chronicle this week, "no party preference" and independent voters still have plenty of time to request Democratic ballots if they're eager to cast votes for Elizabeth Warren, Sanders, or someone else. But, for those voters who have already received their ballots in the mail, those ballots will need to be canceled first.
Around 154,000 San Franciscans are not registered with affiliation to a particular party, and Artz says that around 15,000 of those have already contacted requested Democratic ballots. And this is only an issue for the presidential primary — everything else on the ballot will appear on all ballots, regardless of affiliation.
For voters who live in SF, you can use the SF elections portal to request your crossover ballot.
If you're one of those people who procrastinates on such administrative tasks, and you're registered independent, all you have to do is show up at a polling place on March 3 and request a Democratic ballot in person. Voters will also be able to change party affiliations on the day of the primary at all polling places if they wish.