Navigating the Maze: The 2024 California Presidential Primaries and Certified Candidates

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash


California is gearing up for the 2024 presidential primaries scheduled for Super Tuesday on March 5. However, California's semi-closed rules and regulations leave millions of voters confused every election cycle and unsure about their voting rights. Here is everything voters in the Golden State need to know about the upcoming presidential primary.

California's Complex and Confusing Presidential Primary System

California's presidential primaries are well-known for their complexity, as the state grants significant autonomy to political parties in determining candidate and voter participation. Registered party members can only vote in their respective party's primary, but receive a ballot automatically.

No Party Preference (NPP) voters are not afforded the same treatment as registered party members. The Democratic, American Independent, and Libertarian Parties allow them to request a crossover ballot for their presidential primary ballots, but it is something NPP voters must know to explicitly request -- whether by mail or when voting in person.

Failing to do so leaves them with a NPP ballot devoid of candidates -- and they won't have any say in the presidential primary. NPP voters are not allowed to request crossover ballots from the Republican, Green, and Peace and Freedom Parties.

To add to the confusion, hundreds of thousands of voters are registered with a political party by mistake. Originally reported by IVN in 2014 and substantiated by subsequent research from the LA Times in 2016, most voters registered with the American Independent Party have done so by mistake.

Many of these voters likely intended to register with an independent designation, but were unaware of the party's specific affiliation. Unless these voters change their voter registration by the February 20 deadline, the only presidential primary ballot they can receive is the party's ballot with one certified candidate.

Certified Candidates in the 2024 California Presidential Primary

Democratic Party

Joseph R Biden

Dean Phillips

Marianne Williamson

President R Boddie

Eban Cambridge

Gabriel Cornejo

Stephen P Lyons

Armando "Mando" Perez-Serrato

Republican Party

Donald J. Trump

Ryan L Binkley

Chris Christie

Ron DeSantis

Nikki Haley

Asa Hutchinson

Vivek Ramaswamy

David Stuckenberg

Rachel Swift

American Independent Party

James Bradley 

Green Party

Jill Stein

Libertarian Party

Charles Ballay

Peace and Freedom Party

Claudia De la Cruz

Jasmine Sherman

Cornel West

Key Dates for the 2024 Presidential Primaries

Every eligible voter needs to be aware of the following key dates:

  1. Last Day to Register: February 20, 2024
  2. Ballots Mailed by County Offices: By February 5, 2024
  3. Vote-by-Mail Deadline: Postmarked on or before Election Day (March 5, 2024), received by March 12, 2024
  4. Early In-Person Voting at Vote Centers: Beginning February 24, 2024
Image reference
Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash. License obtained by author.