Election officials have begun sending out vote-by-mail ballots for the June 5 primary.
The forms can be requested from county registrars until May 29. But May 21 is the last day to register to vote in this year's primary, which will mark the first widespread use of California's new election system, approved by state voters in 2010.
Party primaries are a thing of the past for all but the office of president and for county central committees. This year, all voters will get a single ballot listing every candidate for their congressional and state legislative districts. The top two finishers, regardless of any party affiliation, will advance to the November general election.
Now that the mail ballots are on their way, look for an increase in political mail and cable TV and radio ads in many of the races for 53 congressional, 20 state Senate and 50 Assembly seats. Also on the ballot are two statewide propositions — a tobacco tax increase and an adjustment of term limits — and 23 mostly unknown candidates challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in her bid for reelection.