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Special Report / The Democratic Presidential Debate

About the Blanket Primary

March 02, 2000

Californians will vote Tuesday in a blanket primary. Any registered voter can cast a ballot for any candidate from any party. The names of all the candidates will appear together on a single ballot.

In the presidential race, Secretary of State Bill Jones' office will tally the popular vote, but only votes cast by members of a candidate's party will count in awarding delegates to the national conventions. Democrats will decide which candidate gets the Democratic delegates, for example.

Voters will cast single ballots; the ballots are coded so that they can be separated by political party.

The unusual process is the result of a conflict between Republican and Democratic party rules and a voter-approved initiative mandating the blanket primary.

Under California's old system, voters could choose only among candidates of the party in which they were registered. Those who declined to state a party preference were ineligible to cast a primary vote for partisan offices such as governor, Congress and the state Legislature.

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