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San Diego's guide to elections during the Mar. 5 presidential primary

San Diego's guide to elections during the Mar. 5 presidential primary

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — Voting is officially underway in San Diego for the upcoming Mar. 5 presidential primary, featuring dozens of local, state and federal races and several ballot measures.

Registered voters will have until Election Day to cast their ballot at one of the county's numerous vote centers or ballot drop boxes.

While some may already be bubbling in their ballots, for those voters that have not yet started filling out theirs, FOX 5 has compiled everything to know about the election, including who is running and how to vote.

How can I vote in this election?

Ballots were mailed to registered voters in San Diego County earlier this month, ahead of early voting opening up at the Registrar of Voters office in Kearny Mesa on Feb. 5. Drop boxes for voters to drop of a completed mail-in ballot are also now available.

San Diego residents who want to vote in the election but are not already registered to vote will have until Feb. 20 to register in advance. After the registration deadline passes, unregistered voters can still participate in the election by conditionally registering.

California does have same-day voter registration, so signing up to become a voter when you go to cast your ballot is possible during this window at county vote centers, which will begin opening up on Feb. 24. At these centers, residents can also:

  • Vote in-person or drop off a mail-in ballot.
  • Vote using an accessible ballot marking device.
  • Receive assistance and voting materials in multiple languages.

All vote centers in San Diego County will open on Saturday, Mar. 2, with the final day of voting set for Tuesday, Mar. 5. They will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Election Day, when hours at all locations changes to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to the Registrar of Voters office.

County election officials encourage voters to take advantage of mail-in or early voting opportunities ahead of the primary election day. Early voters will be able to track the status of their ballot through the U.S. Postal Service’s “Where’s My Ballot?” program.

To find an official ballot drop box or vote center nearby, voters can go to the Registrar of Voters’ website. Residents can also contact the Registrar of Voters at 858-565-5800 or toll free at 800-696-0136.

What is the difference between a primary and general election?

Primary elections are typically the first contest held during an election cycle so the number of candidates for the office can be narrowed to around two people.

For most offices, whoever gets the most votes, regardless of political party, moves on to the final contest in November, called the general election. However, presidential primaries are slightly different, as it is used by political parties to nominate a candidate to represent them in the general.

In California, the presidential primary is a closed primary, meaning those registered with a certain party preference are only able to vote in that political party's contest. No preference voters have to request a ballot with the presidential party they would like to participate in.

What is going to be on the ballot?

Every San Diego County residents' ballot is likely going to look slightly different, depending on one's place of residence. That is because most local races, such as those for school board or city councilmembers, are only open to residents who live in that district.

A handful of races will look more or less the same statewide depending on party registration, including the presidential primary, one of California's U.S. Senate seats and a ballot measure, Proposition 1, to open up more than $6 billion in funds for behavioral health treatment.

As far as races specific to San Diego, FOX 5 compiled a list of all of the candidates who are vying for the county's elected offices, from federal posts to positions in cities like San Diego and Chula Vista:

Among the key local races FOX 5 and KUSI are watching next month are the San Diego mayoral race as incumbent Mayor Todd Gloria seeks re-election, the race to fill the District 4 seat on the San Diego City Council and the race in the fourth city council district for Chula Vista as Andrea Cardenas is running again amid fraud charges and calls to resign.

San Diego voters will also be able to make their voices heard on several local ballot measures, including a proposal, Measure A, to allow the city auditor to retain independent counsel when officials feel the city attorney may have a conflict of interest.

When can results be expected?

The first set of unofficial election night results will come in shortly after 8 p.m. According to the county, the update will include mail-in ballots received before Mar. 5, as well as early vote center ballots.

Election Day ballots will be counted after vote centers close at 8 p.m. These will be scanned by the Registrar and will be updated to the unofficial count periodically throughout the night.

Unofficial results may not come in until 11 p.m. or later. It will not include mail-in ballots postmarked on Mar. 5 that arrived after Election Day or any provisional ballots — those will be counted in the days after the election.

FOX 5/KUSI will be following the primary on Election Day. Check back on Mar. 5 for real-time results.