Primary Elections

Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act

Three Types of Candidate Offices

1.  Party-Nominated Offices

President and County Central Committees are Party-Nominated Offices. Voters can vote only for the candidates of the same qualified political party (unless parties allow Nonpartisan voters to cross-over and join their primary. For President, the candidate chosen nationally by each party is placed on the general election ballot. For County Central Committees, the candidates who receive the most votes in the primary win outright.

2.  Voter-Nominated Offices

Governor

Treasurer

United State Senator

Lieutenant Governor​

​Attorney General

United State Representative

Secretary of State

Insurance Commissioner

State Senator

Controller

State Board of Equalization

​State ​Representative​

Under the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, all candidates running for Voter-Nominated Offices regardless of their party preference, will appear on the single combined ballot and voters can vote for any candidate from any political party.

The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act requires that only the two candidates for Voter-Nominated Offices who receive the highest and second-highest number of votes cast at the primary election shall appear on the ballot as candidates at the ensuing general election.

3.  Nonpartisan Offices

Nonpartisan Offices include the Superintendent of Public Instruction as well as Judicial Offices, County Offices, City of San Jose, and San Benito County Board of Education. A candidate's political party preference is not listed on the ballot and voters can vote for any candidate. In majority vote contests (at least 50% +1), candidates that receive a majority of the votes in the primary win outright. Otherwise, the top two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary move on to the general election.

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