Can I vote for a candidate that belongs to a different political party than the one I belong to?

The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, which took effect January 1, 2011, requires that all candidates for a voter-nominated office be listed on the same ballot.  Previously known as partisan offices, voter-nominated offices are state legislative offices, U.S. congressional offices, and state constitutional offices.

In this new open primary system, this means you can vote for any candidate, regardless of what party preference you indicated on your voter registration form.  Only the two candidates receiving the most votes – regardless of party preference – move on to the general election regardless of vote totals.  If a candidate receives a majority of the vote (50 percent + 1), a general election still must be held.  Even if there are only two candidates in the open primary, a general election is still required.

California’s new open primary system does not apply to candidates running for U.S. President, county central committee, or local offices.