Feb 20, 2024 - News

How to vote in San Diego's March primary

Illustration of a mailbox with ballot elements behind it

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

By now, every voter in San Diego County should have received a ballot in the mail for the March 5 primary election.

Why it matters: Primaries determine who appears on the November ballot for major races, including U.S. Senate and San Diego mayor.

State of play: Voting is underway and it's still not too late to register.

Yes, but: Residents who miss the deadline can visit the county registrar's office in Kearny Mesa — or one of 39 vote centers starting Saturday — to conditionally register and cast a provisional ballot.

Between the lines: Registered party preference determines whether voters can participate in a given presidential primary.

  • The Democratic Party allows voters registered without a party preference to vote in their primary, but only if they specifically request a crossover ballot by March 5.
  • Only registered Republican voters can participate in the GOP primary, requiring a registration change for anyone who wants to do so.

Meanwhile, in state and municipal races, candidates run on a single ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to a November runoff.

What's next: Ballots can be mailed via the U.S. Postal Service but must be postmarked and signed by Election Day.

  • Voters can also drop their ballot at the registrar's office, 8am-5pm weekdays.
  • The 39 vote centers will be open 8am-5pm starting Saturday. An additional 140 centers will open March 2.
  • The registrar also has arranged dozens of drop-box locations around the county, and most are already up and running.
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