The California Primary Has Already Begun, Through Early Mail-in Voting

California Democratic primary ballot (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)
Joel Pollak / Breitbart News

LOS ANGELES, California — The California primary is not scheduled to take place until Super Tuesday, nearly four weeks away. But thanks to early mail-in voting, the California primary has already begun.

The state recently moved its primary from early June to early March, to allow its residents — and its large population of Latino voters — more of a say in the eventual selection of the Democratic Party nominee.

But because of the permissive voting rules in California, the primary actually begins in early February. Voters today are casting ballots by mail even before the results of Monday’s Iowa caucuses are known.

Moreover, innovations such as “ballot harvesting” — illegal almost everywhere else in the country — will allow campaigns to use third-party operatives to deliver unlimited numbers of other people’s ballots. In 2018, Republicans complained that the practice made fraud easier and robbed them of closely-contested congressional seats.

It remains to be seen how Democrats feel about “ballot harvesting” when they being using it against each other.

In 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appeared to have a chance to win the state, and even led in some polls, before Hillary Clinton won by a wide margin, partly due to mail-in votes.

California is the biggest prize on the primary calendar, with the most delegates at stake, awarded by a complicated formula that requires candidates to reach a 15% threshold statewide or in congressional districts.

Over a dozen jurisdictions, including Texas, will also vote on Super Tuesday, March 3. Few have begun voting already, and those with very early voting tend to require ballots be cast in person.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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