California Voter Guide

Get informed in minutes with our Voter Guide for California’s March 5 primary election. Unpack ballot measures and compare candidates in the most important races on Bay Area ballots and learn the easiest ways to cast your vote.

Important Dates

Feb. 5

Voting begins.

Feb. 20

March 5

Election Day: Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Results will be available starting 8 p.m. 

April 4

Last day for county elections officials to certify election results.

Top Election News

Shape California’s Future

Important choices are in your hands this primary election. You can decide on a once-in-a-generation U.S. Senate race, and a proposition to overhaul California’s mental health funding, along with contests for state Legislature, and a slew of regional and local races and measures.

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Key California Elections

A black and white microphone is perched on a lectern. The front panel of the lectern is colored light red with the word "Senate" printed across the front. A small blue shape is collaged behind the image.

U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, former baseball star Steve Garvey and attorney Eric Early are among the candidates running in California’s most competitive U.S. Senate election in decades.

A black and white mid-rise apartment building is pictured at three-quarters view, revealing a pink side wall with a medical cross symbol on it. A small blue shape is collaged to the left of the building.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says this measure will provide the housing desperately needed by many Californians with severe behavioral health challenges. Critics argue that housing will come at the expense of mental health services and civil liberties.

Key Bay Area Elections

Get comprehensive information about the top races in each Bay Area county.

A raising crane sits next to stacks of shipping containers in the Port of Oakland. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

Voters will consider changes to the county’s recall process and choose a new member of Congress, among other heated races.

Two refinery drums sit amongst trees in the hills of Contra Costa County. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

Competitive elections for county supervisor and state Legislature are on the ballot this year. 

A boardwalk passes by a large rock formation along the Pacific coast in Marin County. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

There’s an open seat on the Board of Supervisors, plus voters in Larkspur will weigh in on a referendum challenging the city’s rent-control law.

A cluster of grapes hangs from a vineyard in Napa County. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

With multiple openings on the Board of Supervisors, this election could shape the direction of the county’s government.

The southern tower of the Golden Gate Bridge is viewed from the San Francisco shore. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

Mayor London Breed, facing reelection in November, puts her plans to change policing and welfare on the ballot.

A span of the San Mateo Bridge is shown above still bay waters. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

Supervisors Dave Pine and Warren Slocum are termed out of office — opening two seats in this election.

Hangar One sits in Moffett Field in Santa Clara County. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

U.S. Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo’s imminent retirement has sparked a competitive primary race for her long-held House seat.

Wind turbines rise above agricultural hills in Solano County. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

An open seat on the county Board of Supervisors and a competitive primary for state Senate headline this election.

Rows of vineyards cover a hillside in Sonoma County. The image is in black and white and contained in a light blue circle.

Voters are considering a sales tax to pay for fire prevention and response.

Presidential Election

The blue donkey symbol of the Democratic Party is surrounded by a field of blue plus symbols in various weights.

Candidates are competing for the 496 delegates that California will send to the party’s convention in Chicago, where a nominee will be chosen for the general election. 

The red elephant symbol of the Republican Party is surrounded by a field of red plus symbols in various weights.

Candidates are competing for the 169 delegates that California will send to the party’s convention in Milwaukee, where a nominee will be chosen for the general election.

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Voting FAQ

Do I have to request a mail-in ballot?

No — every registered voter in California will automatically receive a ballot in the mail. You can use that ballot to cast your vote (see below for where to return it when you’re done) or you can forget that ballot and request a fresh one at a voting location. The one that arrived in the mail will be canceled. Read more about finding a voting location near you.

I'm registered as a No Party Preference voter. Can I still vote in the March presidential primary?

Yes — but the No Party Preference ballot you’ll automatically receive in early February will not include the presidential contest, so you’ll need to request a new one. If you want to vote for a presidential candidate in the American Independent Party, the Democratic Party or the Libertarian Party, you can request a cross-over ballot from your county elections office, or in person when you vote. If you want to vote for a presidential candidate in the Green Party, the Peace and Freedom Party or the Republican Party, you will need to re-register online as a member of that party – and if you don’t do this before Feb. 20, you can do it at your county elections office or when you vote in person. Read more about voting in the presidential primary as a No Party Preference voter.

How do I return my ballot?

Ballots can be returned through the Postal Service (the return postage is already paid) or dropped off at a voting location or in a ballot drop box. Keep in mind that the Postal Service must postmark your ballot envelope by the end of Election Day for your vote to count — and the last collection at many mailboxes is 5 p.m. If it’s getting late in the day on March 5, you might consider using a county drop box instead of a USPS mailbox. Read more about returning your ballot.

What if I make a mistake on my ballot?

Some counties will provide written instructions on how to correct a mistake on your ballot, such as voting for a candidate you didn’t intend to. But if you clearly mark your intended choice — say, by x-ing out your mistake — your vote can still be counted. Read more about correcting a mistake on your ballot.

What if I made a mistake with my ballot signature?

Your ballot will not be counted if the envelope is unsigned or if the signature doesn’t match the signature in your voter registration file. Typically, the signature on file is the same as the signature pictured on the front of your driver’s license or state ID. County election officials can reach out to you to correct a missing or mismatched signature in order to count your ballot, even after election day. Read more about common signature mistakes.

How do I track my ballot once I’ve returned it?

All registered voters in California can sign up for an online tool to track the status of their mail-in ballots for the November general election. “Where’s My Ballot?” provides automated notifications via email, text or phone when your county elections offices have mailed out your ballot — and when your completed ballot has been received and processed. Read more about tracking your ballot.

Can I still vote in-person?

Yes. In Contra Costa, San Francisco and Solano counties, you will be assigned to a specific polling place for in-person voting, though some voting locations will be open to all voters. In Alameda, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties, you can cast your ballot at any vote center in the county. Read more about where you can vote in person.

The KQED 2024 Primary Voter Guide was made by our news and product teams comprised of Adhiti Bandlamudi, Bryan Bindloss, Dan Brekke, Carlos Cabrera-Lomelí, Jason Cater, Jason Chee, Teresa Cho, Kevin Cooke, Azul Dahlstrom-Eckman, Duke Fan, Annelise Finney, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, Pamela Gilmour, Matthew Green, Alex Hall, Tyche Hendricks, Sydney Johnson, Sahila Jorapur, Nisa Khan, Marisa Lagos, Juan Carlos Lara, Kimberly Low, Guy Marzorati, Gabe Meline, Vanessa Merina, Rachael Myrow, Daisy Nguyen, Chante Owens, Attila Pelit, Noah Piper, Vanessa Rancaño, Ezra David Romero, Caroline Sarkki, Scott Shafer, Molly Solomon, Ki Sung, Ethan Toven-Lindsey, and Danielle Venton.

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