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County of Kern Elections Division
Registrar of Voters

Mary B. Bedard, CPA
1115 Truxtun Avenue, 1st Floor Bakersfield, CA 93301-4639
Regular Office Hours 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Mon-Fri
(661) 868-3590 or 1-800-452-8683 Fax # (661) 868-3768
County Building

Kern County
Elections
English / Español

“Top 2” is New for California

What is a Top 2 Primary?

A Top 2 Primary lets you vote for any candidate (for most races), even if you are not in the same political party. The top 2 candidates – the ones who get the most votes in the primary – will be on the General Election ballot in November.

Is Top 2 different than the last primary election?

Yes. Top 2 is new. It became law in 2010 when we passed Prop 14. Before Top 2, each party could have one candidate on the General Election ballot for all party races. Now with Top 2, only two candidates get on the General Election ballot for most races – the ones who got the most votes in the primary – no matter what party they are from.

What does party preference mean?

Party preference refers to the political party you – or the candidate – is registered with. It’s listed under each candidate’s name on the ballot. The word “None” appears for candidates who are not registered with a party. For example:
JOHN SMITH
Party Preference: Democratic
JANE DOE
Party Preference: Republican
CHRIS JONES
Party Preference: None

Do all offices follow the Top 2 rules?

No. Top 2 applies to these voter-nominated offices:
  • U.S. Senator
  • U.S. Representative
  • State Senator
  • State Assembly
  • Statewide constitutional offices (such as Governor, which will be on the 2014 ballot).
Top 2 does not apply to elections for President and Party Central Committees.

Can the Top 2 candidates be from the same party?

Yes. The Top 2 candidates might be from the same party, different parties, or no party.

If only 1 or 2 candidates run for an office, will they still run in the primaries?

Yes.

I am registered with a political party. What ballot will I receive in June?

You will receive a ballot for your party if you are registered with one of these parties:
  • American Independent
  • Democratic
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace and Freedom
  • Republican
Your ballot will have:
  • Your party’s candidates for President and central committee, and
  • All candidates from all parties for voter-nominated and nonpartisan offices, and
  • State or local measures.
Exception: The Americans Elect Party is not participating in this Primary. If you belong to the Americans Elect Party, your ballot will not have candidates for President or your party’s local central committee.

What if I am registered with one party but I want to vote another party’s ballot?

You are not allowed to vote a different party’s ballot.

What ballot do I vote if I am not registered with any party?

If you did not select any party when you registered or if you registered Decline to State, Independent, or Nonpartisan, you are a No Party Preference Voter, or NPP. NPP ballots do not let you vote for President.
If you want to vote for President in the 2012 primary election, you may vote a:
  • Democratic Party ballot or
  • American Independent Party ballot.
Important! If you want to vote a ballot for one of these parties, you must ask for it.

Can I still write in a candidate on my ballot?

Yes. You can write in a candidate for voter-nominated offices at the primary election, but not for the general election. For other contests, you are allowed to write in a candidate at both the primary and general elections.

Can I find out what party I am registered with?

Yes. There are 2 easy ways to find out which party – if any – you registered with:
  • Look on the back cover of your Sample Ballot and Voter’s Information Pamphlet. Your party is printed next to your name and address. If you did not register with a party, it says NPP.
  • Call our office at 661-868-3590
Can I change my political party?

Yes. Fill out a new Voter Registration card and return it at least 15 days before the election. The deadline to register for the June 2012 election is May 21, 2012.

Do I need to register again for each election?

No. Fill out a new Voter Registration card only if you have:
  • Moved,
  • Changed your name, or
  • Think you haven’t voted in the last 4 years.
Where can I register to vote?

You can get a Voter Registration card at: What if I have questions about Top 2?


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