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California voters can switch party status on election day

California voters will be able to change their party affiliation and update their address at polling stations on election day under a new law approved in time for the March 3 Democratic primary.

Posted: Feb 14, 2020 8:44 AM
Updated: Oct 19, 2020 6:04 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California voters will be able to change their party affiliation and update their address at polling stations on election day under a new law approved in time for the March 3 Democratic primary.

The change was particularly sought as it will allow the state’s 5.6 million independent voters to register with a party by signing off on only one form on election day. Democratic presidential campaigns hope the law will boost the number of registered Democrats and participation in their primary.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday afternoon signed the bill into law, which takes effect immediately.

The upcoming primary is also the first time Californians can newly register to vote on election day at polling stations. Anticipating long lines of residents registering to vote, lawmakers from both parties said the new rule will allow already registered voters to bypass those lines if they simply wish to update their party affiliation or residency.

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But independent voters, also known as no party preference, in California don’t need to register as a Democrat to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. Those voters can just request a Democratic ballot, either by mail or in-person on election day.

No party preference voters make up 28% of California’s registered voters.

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