County of Sonoma, California
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Political Party Affiliation

Party Affiliation

When you register to vote, you may affiliate with any qualified or unqualified political party, or you may decline to state a political party. If you register without indicating your political party affiliation, register with an unqualified political party, or decline to state an affiliation, you will be considered a non-partisan voter. To change your political party affiliation, you must re-register at least 15 days prior to an election. Prior to a primary election, you will be sent a Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet based on the party affiliation (or lack thereof) indicated on your voter registration form.

California’s Qualified Political Parties

  • American Independent
  • Democratic
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace and Freedom
  • Republican

To learn more about each qualified political party, visit the California Secretary of State’s web site.

Note: "Independent" is not a political party. Please read all information on this page carefully before indicating your political party choice on the registration form.

Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act and Voter-Nominated Offices

On June 8, 2010, California voters approved Proposition 14, which created the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act. Except for the office of US President and county central committee offices, offices that used to be known as "partisan offices" (e.g., state constitutional offices, US Congress, and state legislative offices) are now known as "voter-nominated" offices.

Prior to the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, all candidates running in a special election, regardless of their party registration, appeared on a single Special Primary Election ballot and voters could vote for any candidate. Unless one candidate received a majority of the votes cast, the top vote-getter from each qualified party and any candidates who qualified using the independent nomination process would move on to the Special General Election.

Now, under the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, all candidates running in a special election, regardless of their party preference, will still appear on a single Special Primary Election ballot and voters can vote for any candidate. However, unless one candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, the top two overall vote-getters – not the top vote-getter from each qualified party and anyone using the independent nomination process – will move on to the Special General Election.

Prior to the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, a candidate for a partisan office would have the political party they were registered with listed next to or below their name on the Special Primary and Special General Election ballots. A candidate who won a Special Primary Election was then considered to be the official nominee of their political party.

Now, under the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, candidates for voter-nominated office can choose whether to list their party preference on the Special Primary and Special General Election ballots. Political parties can no longer formally nominate candidates for voter-nominated offices, so a candidate who finishes in the top two at the Special Primary Election and advances to the Special General Election is not the official nominee of any party for the office.