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Which Presidential Candidates Will Be On My Ballot?

Jetoi Johnson displays California's multi-language "I Voted" sticker for those who voted at the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office in Norwalk. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Primary election season 2020 is officially underway — vote-by-mail ballots start going out today (although you still have till Feb. 25 to request yours). Our Voter Game Plan project has been fielding questions about all the big changes happening in the way we vote.

Here's one question we've been hearing: "I want to vote in the presidential primary. Do I have to change my party registration to vote for the candidate I want?"

You might have heard about a change this year that lets you vote for a candidate in the presidential primary even if you are not registered with that candidate's party — and that's partially true.

If you are a registered voter with any party — be it Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, etc. — you'll automatically get a ballot with your party's presidential candidates. Simple enough.

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If you’re registered as “No Party Preference,” you are still allowed to vote for a presidential candidate in the Democratic, Libertarian, or American Independent parties. But in order to do so, you have to request what's called a "crossover ballot." If you plan to vote in person, you can simply request one when you get to the voting center.

But if you're voting by mail, then you’ll have to request that crossover ballot before February 25. You can do that by contacting your county elections office.

For L.A. County residents: The Los Angeles County Registrar's office in Norwalk is open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (800) 815-2666. You'll get a phone menu to navigate, so here's a shortcut: press 2 and then 3 to reach someone who can help you request a crossover ballot. You can also email for more help.

Important reminder! This does not apply to the Republican, Green or Peace and Freedom parties. You’ll have to register with those parties if you want to vote for their candidates.

Have more questions about the voting process? Our Voter Game Plan has been answering frequently asked ones here. If you want to ask us anything else, submit your question below.