What’s on the ballot in California’s 2022 primary election?

A pile of "I voted" stickers, with a hand picking one up.
California’s midterm primary election is Tuesday, and ballots have been sent to every registered voter.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

OK, California: It’s election time again.

First up is the state’s primary on Tuesday. Ballots were sent to every registered voter, and in-person voting is underway. So who’s running for what? Why does it matter? What to do with that ballot in your mailbox? And what to do if there isn’t one in there?

Here’s what you need to know:

California’s 2022 election ballot includes races for governor, attorney general, Legislature and Congress, local contests and statewide propositions.

Nov. 1, 2022


How does the primary work?

In California’s top-two primary for state and congressional elections, all candidates are listed on a single ballot, and the two who receive the most votes, regardless of party, advance to the November election.


California voters decided in 2010 to switch to the open primary system, where voters aren’t limited to choosing among candidates from their own parties. (The ballot measure didn’t change the rules for nonpartisan offices or for presidential primaries, where the qualified parties have their own rules.)

In some races — L.A. County supervisor, sheriff or L.A. mayoral contests, for example — if a candidate gets even one vote over 50% in the primary, he or she wins outright.


What are we voting on?

Gov. Gavin Newsom is up for reelection for his second and final term after overwhelmingly beating a recall attempt last year. Californians will also pick candidates for lieutenant governor, treasurer, attorney general and secretary of state. State Assembly seats and even-numbered state Senate districts are on the ballot as well.

Californians will also cast primary votes in two separate U.S. Senate races — though they’re both for the seat held by Sen. Alex Padilla, who was appointed by Newsom after Kamala Harris left the Senate to become vice president. A special vote to finish the term ending Jan. 3, 2023, and the regularly scheduled vote for the six-year term ending in 2029 are next to each other on the ballot.


What about Los Angeles County and L.A. races?

County races include a contentious sheriff’s contest, with challengers trying to unseat L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, as well as races in county Board of Supervisors Districts 1 and 3.

City races are being held for attorney, controller, eight council districts — the odd-numbered ones — and three school board districts.

The marquee race in L.A. is for the successor to termed-out Mayor Eric Garcetti. In a crowded field, billionaire developer Rick Caruso and progressive U.S. Rep. Karen Bass are the front-runners in polls.



What about the congressional races?

Because of her mayoral run, Bass’ seat representing South Los Angeles in the U.S. House is among those up for grabs. It is almost sure to remain in Democratic hands, while other key races in the state are far tighter. Nationally, the president’s party typically loses congressional seats in the midterm election, and President Biden is facing low approval ratings, so Republicans are expected to capture the House. The leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, could become a key issue in some races, including several in California. The contests in California are unlikely to determine control of the chamber, but they could determine the margin between the parties.

California is losing a congressional seat for the first time in its history due to slow population growth. The shifting lines for 52 new districts — drawn by an independent panel — have fueled increased competition, prompting some officials to resign early or not seek reelection.

A look at California’s congressional races in the 2022 primary election as Republicans and Democrats fight for control of the House of Representatives.

June 3, 2022


When did ballots go out?

County election officials across the state mailed ballots out last month. In Los Angeles and Orange counties, election officials sent overseas voters their ballots in April.


How do I check if I’m registered to vote?

Visit the secretary of state’s office online to check your registration status. You’ll need your California driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

You may have to register again if you’ve moved and didn’t notify the Department of Motor Vehicles or Postal Service, or if you changed your name since the last time you voted.

California’s 2022 primary election is Tuesday. Here’s how to cast a ballot.

June 7, 2022


How do I register?

The registration deadline for this year’s primary election has passed, but you can visit a voting center Tuesday to complete a conditional voter registration. This will allow you to cast a ballot, which will count after verification by county election officials.


Where can I find a voter guide?

The voter guide the secretary of state’s office mailed out is also available online.


What if I need a guide or voting instructions in another language?

Voting information is available in Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese.


Can I vote if I don’t have a permanent address?

Yes! Your right to vote isn’t canceled out if you’re homeless, living off the grid or don’t yet have a fixed place. You must, however, be 18 or older on election day, a U.S. citizen and a state resident to qualify to vote.

Addresses are requested when registering to vote because it helps election officials determine which races you’re eligible to vote on. Plus, it allows them to mail you a ballot and voter guide. But voters can also fill out the address section with the place they spend most of their time.


What happens if I didn’t get a ballot?

If you didn’t find your ballot in the mail, you can show up at your local polling place and vote with a provisional ballot.


How do I return my mail-in ballot?

Ballots can be submitted in person at voting centers or in drop boxes. To find your closest center or drop box, enter your city and ZIP Code here. Ballots can also be mailed to county election officials so long as they are postmarked on or before Tuesday. (Don’t forget to sign the return envelope.) To be counted, a ballot must be received no later than June 14.

An official Los Angeles County ballot drop box
Ballots can be submitted in person at voting centers or in drop boxes.
(Matt Stiles / Los Angeles Times)

I want to vote in person. How do I find out where to go?

Your sample ballot should have an address printed on it showing your local polling site. If an address isn’t listed, call the secretary of state’s voter hotline at (800) 345-8683 or check here. Early voting sites can be found here.


OK, I voted. How can I make sure it got counted?

Check here to track your ballot online. You’ll be able to see when it was received and when it was counted.


What happens after election day?

Now we wait until county election officials finish counting ballots and certify the results. This could take some time, as mail-in ballots postmarked on election day have until June 14 to arrive. County election officials must send official totals to the secretary of state by July 8.

And then it’s on to the general election Nov. 8.