The drama around this year’s presidential election could translate into a rare opportunity for California voters.

For the first time in decades, the results of the California primary could significantly impact the parties’ nominations for president; but to participate in the primary, voters must first complete their registration paperwork.

According to the County’s records, the City of Santa Monica has 33,790 Democrats, 9,151 Republicans, 1,535 American Independents, 635 Green Party members, 496 Libertarians, 223 Peace and Freedom members, 7,117 declined to state, 10,545 had no party preference and 808 were registered with miscellaneous non-qualified parties.

Voters affiliated with a specific party will have the option to participate in that party’s California primary election on Tuesday, June 7.

In California, political parties can allow voters without a party preference to participate in party-specific presidential primaries. However, each party must notify the Secretary of State’s office within 135 days of the election if they plan to allow non-party members to vote.

For the June 7 presidential primary election, the American Independent Party, Democratic Party and Libertarian Party have notified the Secretary of State that they will allow unaffiliated voters to request their party’s presidential ballot. Voters that want to participate in the Republican primary will have to register as Republican to participate.

Voters without a party preference will have to specifically request a Democratic, American Independent or Libertarian ballot from the county elections office or the poll worker at their voting location to participate in one of those party’s primaries. A voter cannot request more than one party’s ballot.

If unaffiliated voters do not make the specific request for a party primary ballot, they will be given a nonpartisan ballot with names of candidates for voter-nominated offices, local nonpartisan offices and measures scheduled for that election.

Citizens can register to vote at anytime, however in order to vote in a specific election, voters must register 15 days before that election. For the 2016 races, May 23 is the last day to register to vote in the state primary election and Oct. 24 is the last day to register to vote for the November election.

To qualify, a potential voter must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old on or before Election Day. Anyone currently serving a court sentence for a felony, currently on parole or whom a court has declared mentally incompetent is prohibited from voting.

Voters can register online or with a paper form.

Traditional registration forms are available locally at the City Clerk’s Office, U.S. Post Offices, public libraries, Department of Motor Vehicles offices and other public buildings. The forms can also be downloaded from the Secretary of State’s website at http://registertovote.ca.gov.

The site also offers online registration.

To register online you need a California driver’s license or California identification card number, the last four digits of your social security number and your date of birth. Residents without a license or ID card can still register online by completing an online interview.

Generally, once registered, residents do not need to reregister unless they move. However, it’s possible for voter registration to be canceled if a voter has not voted in several consecutive general elections. To check your registration status visit http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status.

Voters that have moved since registering should update their information to reflect their new permanent address as polling places and eligibility for some elections is based on geography. Voters should also update their registration if they have legally changed their name.

Los Angeles County allows voting by mail. Mail ballots can be returned via the mail or submitted to a polling place on Election Day. To be valid, a mail ballot must be postmarked by Election Day and received at the registrar within three days.

For more information on voting by mail, visit www.lavote.net/home/voting-elections/voting-options/vote-by-mail/apply-to-vote-by-mail.

Additional information on voter registration may be obtained at the L.A. County Clerk/Recorder’s website, http://www.lavote.net, or by calling the Secretary of State’s Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).

editor@www.smdp.com