The roller-coaster primary doesn’t pull into California for a couple of months, but local officials are gearing up for significant voter turnout no matter who remains in the race by June 7.
The Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk said his office has already seen a surge in voter registrations and that steps are being taken to ensure everyone can vote when Californians go to the polls.
“We have really good election laws and procedures in place to avoid the pitfalls in places that have been caught off-guard,” Dean Logan said. “Our polling places in Los Angeles County are pretty dense. There are 4,800 locations on Election Day, so even in a high-turnout election, we should be able to process voters efficiently.”
Logan said voting procedures for a presidential primary differ from a general election and that first-time or infrequent voters should be aware of a few key points, specifically party registration status.
The Republican Party has a closed primary and only voters who are registered as Republicans will be able to vote in that race. With the departure of Ted Cruz this week, Donald Trump is the presumed nominee for the Republican Party, but Trump’s popularity could still be a draw for many voters and he has shown an ability to bring new people into the process.
Those new voters have until May 23 to verify their registration status in order to participate, and many have done so already. The Green and Peace & Freedom parties also use closed systems.
The Democratic Party has an open primary system, but that does not mean that just anyone can vote. To participate in the Democratic primary, voters must be registered as Democrats or non-partisan. Hillary Clinton remains the Democratic frontrunner, but the Bernie Sanders campaign continues to remain active.
Logan said voter registration information can be found online at www.lavote.net. From there, voters can check their registration status and make changes if necessary. Residents can pick up physical voter registration forms at public libraries, City Hall and the post office. Logan said the most recent registration information supersedes old information so there’s nothing to lose by updating your party preference.
“We say, ‘When in doubt, fill it out,’” he said.
Logan said his office has already seen a surge in non-partisan voters reregistering as Democrats and Republicans. While the raw numbers are increasing, he said the activity is proportional to the historic voter trends.
“The demographics of Los Angeles County remain politically aligned with where they’ve been in the past,” he said.
While some voters are realigning with a party, he said others are registering for the first time and about 100,000 new voters have registered since January of this year.
Logan said all voters can prepare themselves for Election Day. He said voters on a deadline should consider avoiding the busy times around early morning, the lunch hour and the after work rush. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon tend to be less busy, he said, and voters might want to plan a little extra time in their day to account for a high turnout.
However, he said everyone that comes to a polling station will be able to vote.
“We don’t want anybody to feel they’re not going to be served,” he said. “It always helps if you have your sample ballot with you. It’s not required, but it helps.”