The 2020 Presidential Primary season is upon us and all signs point to high public enthusiasm for this election cycle, compared to years past. The more enthusiastic people are about an election, the more likely they are to vote. If you’re someone who’s excited about participating in this upcoming Presidential Primary, there’s some key things to remember to make the voting process as pain free as possible.

First: Register or check your voter registration status to make sure everything is up-to-date;

Second: Presidential Primaries have some unique rules that only come up every 4 years;

Third: No Party Preference voters will be able to “crossover” and vote in some—but not all—party primaries without having to re-register.

I know what you’re thinking—what the heck is a “crossover” and why does this sound so complicated? Good questions! Here are some answers that may help.

What’s up with the Presidential Primary rules? Political parties can choose to limit participation in their party’s primary to only registered voters of that party. In other words, if you’re a registered Democrat, you wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the Republican primary. The same is true for any party that holds a Presidential Primary.

I registered as No Party Preference. Where does that leave me? You have options! You can re-register with a party preference or you may request a crossover ballot. If you do nothing, we’ll send you a nonpartisan ballot. You’ll see contests for everything except the Presidential Primary.

What do you mean by “crossover ballot”? Some parties allow No Party Preference voters to participate or “crossover” in their primaries. In March 2020, the American Independent Party, Democratic Party, and Libertarian Party will allow No Party Preference voters to crossover. If you’re a No Party Preference voter and want to vote for candidates in one of those parties, then you will not have to re-register.

Why can’t I get a crossover ballot for any party of my choosing? Political parties have the right to allow or disallow No Party Preference voters to participate in their primaries. If you want to vote for the candidates in the Green Party, Peace & Freedom Party, or Republican Party, then you must re-register and indicate your party preference.

How do I request a crossover ballot? If our records show that you are registered without a political party preference, we will send you a postcard about crossover voting. The postcard has instructions on how to request a crossover ballot. There will be other opportunities to make a request, but why not do it sooner than later?

Are there resources for me to learn more about the Presidential Primary and crossover voting? Yes! The California Secretary of State created a website, “How to Vote for U.S. President,” that will provide you with additional information. You can also contact us at the Nevada County Elections office at 530-265-1298. We look forward to serving you.

Natalie Adona is the Assistant Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters for Nevada County.