Maybe you've grown older, and the party of your youth no longer reflects your political values. Maybe your old party lost its way, and you no longer want to vote for its candidates on Election Day. Maybe you just want to vote in another party's primary, and need to change your party affiliation to do so. Whatever your motivation, you can switch your allegiance the same way you declared one in the first place: by registering to vote.
Obtain a voter registration form. California offers a wide variety of registration options. You can acquire multilingual paper forms from libraries, post offices and county election offices, or fill out an English or Spanish-language form on the California secretary of state's Web site. Near Election Day, political parties and campaigns often mount voter registration drives, and they cannot deny you a registration card even if you declare an affiliation with another party.
Choose a political party on your voter registration form. You can choose between the six qualified political parties (American Independent, Democratic, Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom or Republican), register as "Other" and declare your affiliation with an unofficial party, or "Decline to State" and register as an independent.
Return your completed voter registration form to your local county elections office. That office will send you a postcard confirming your registration.
Items you will need
- U.S. citizenship
- California residency
- Voter registration form
- The party affiliation you declare will affect your ability to vote in primary elections. According to the California Voter Foundation, voters who declare a party can only vote in that party's primaries. However, several parties, including the Democrats and Republicans, allow "Decline-to-State" voters to cast ballots in their primaries.
- If you live overseas or serve in the military, you can change your party affiliation and request absentee ballots through the Federal Voting Assistance Program by submitting the Federal Post Card Application, or FPCA. The FPCA does not list qualified California parties, but if you know which you prefer, you can still declare your preference on the form.
- You must register at least 15 days before any election in which you intend to vote.
- California Democratic Party; By-Laws & Rules of the California Democratic Party; November 2010
- California Secretary of State: National Voter Registration Card
- Federal Voting Assistance Program: Federal Post-Card Application (FPCA)
- California Secretary of State: A Voting Guide for Currently or Formerly Incarcerated Californians
- California Secretary of State: County Elections Offices
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images