Commentary: Orange County voters will see changes to the primary election this year

Newport Beach election
A voter walks into a polling station at the Newport Beach Civic Center community room on Election Day in November 2014.
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

As most are aware, California’s primary election will be held March 3.

With myriad new laws passed by our state Legislature, the County of Orange will be unveiling a new voting system. These changes mean our elections will begin much earlier than ever before.

Starting Feb. 3, all registered voters — not just those who requested one — will receive a mailed ballot at home.

If you have always been a permanent, vote-by-mail voter, not much changes. You can continue to vote in the manner you have been, except you no longer have to place a 55 cent stamp on the envelope, as the county is now required to cover postage costs.

Those of us who prefer to vote in person have several new options. Beginning seven days before March 3, you have the ability to vote at one of 38 “Vote Centers” countywide. That number increases to 188 the remaining four days of the election.


These Vote Centers use real-time technology to quickly identify each voter who checks in and processes your vote immediately. If you choose to vote near your job, say in Fullerton, the system processes this information and shares it with all the Vote Centers throughout the county, so you cannot vote a second time.

Don’t trust the mail carrier? You have the option to take your ballot to any Vote Center or to one of 110 military grade ballot drop boxes scattered throughout the county.

For a complete listing of Vote Centers and drop boxes, visit the Registrar of Voters’ website at

Lastly, there have been recent concerns by some No Party Preference (NPP) voters who are just now finding out that they are unable to vote for (or against) Donald Trump.


The Republican Party has a closed voting system and only allows registered Republicans to vote for presidential and local Central Committee candidates during the Primary. The last day to register as a Republican — or as a member of any other party for that matter — in this election is Feb. 18.

NPP voters wishing to vote in a partisan presidential contest can do so with the Democratic, Libertarian and American Independent parties only, but must request to do so through the Registrar of Voters.

Otherwise, all remaining aspects on the ballot are the same, including partisan races for Congress, state Senate and state Assembly.

Erik Weigand is a Newport Beach resident and a candidate for the Republican Central Committee of Orange County, of which he is currently treasurer.

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