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Monday, May 23, 2016

Hey, Registered Independents: Here's How To Vote for Bernie (Or Hillary or Trump)

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 4:16 PM

None of this for you 150,000 independents.
  • None of this for you 150,000 independents.

If you're like most San Francisco residents, you're already registered to vote in the California primary election, to be held in just over two weeks' time on June 7. Good for you, as today's the last day to register, which you can do online at 

However, if you're one of the city's nearly 150,000 voters who is registered as an independent — one who declined to state his or her party preference — you may encounter a nasty surprise when you step into the booth in two weeks. It's one you've already encountered if you're an independent who is a permanent vote-by-mail voter, with a ballot already sitting on your kitchen table: on your ballot, you will find no Trump, no Bernie, and no Hillary.

Yes, Sen. Bernie Sanders is an independent who is running for the Democratic nomination, and yes, California has an open primary system — but not for every office. For president, the state has a "modified closed primary system." 

So, in order to participate in a very, very meaningful California Democratic primary, you have to request a Democratic ballot.

But fear not: you have until midnight tonight to register as a Democrat or a Republican (if that's your thing). If you want to stay independent, you can vote in the Democratic primary.

Click on through after the jump for detailed instructions on how (if you haven't already clicked links throughout this post, like this one).

click to enlarge Where Bernie and Hillary would be if you're an independent. - SFELECTIONS
  • SFElections
  • Where Bernie and Hillary would be if you're an independent.

You may consider the state's primary system jacked. If you do, you're far from the only one.

A group of independent voters filed suit against the state on Friday, alleging that the way California does its elections unfairly shuts out independent voters from important processes such as political parties' primaries, as the Chronicle reported. 

This is just about the only time in recent memory a bunch of Bay Area political activists complained about not being Democrats, but such are our times.

As we said before, if you'd like to vote for Hillary — or, say, Bernie — in the upcoming primary and aren't a registered Democrat, you can request a Democratic ballot for the primary.

If voting for a going-to-be-nominated Trump or writing in someone else is really your thing, we won't cast judgment, but we will remind you that you have to be a registered Republican. And there's really no turning back from that. (Not that it's a bad thing.) And you have until midnight tonight — May 23 — to do so.

If you live in San Francisco and aren't sure about your registration status, you can look it up here. If you are a registered independent and want a Democratic ballot, you can get one by filling out this form, which you should do by May 31. But let's assume you blow it. 

If you do, and you're reading this anytime in June, and are an independent voter, you can simply show up at City Hall — where voting is ongoing as we type, right up until polls close on June 7 — identify yourself as an independent, and request a Democratic ballot. Phew. Crisis averted.

If all of this is too confusing, visit our friends at or call them at 415-554-4375. And happy democracy.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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