• Americans Elect
  • American Independent
  • Democratic
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace and Freedom
  • Republican

Click here for information on the qualified political parties


The Natural Law Party was disqualified as of January 2, 2007 since no candidate for statewide office for the Natural Law Party received the required 2% of the vote at the November 7, 2006 General Election.

The Reform Party was disqualified as of December 31, 2002 since no candidate for statewide office for the Reform Party received the required 2% of the vote at the November 5, 2002 General Election.


A voter’s political party registration will impact which ballot he/she will receive in a Presidential Primary Election only. California has a Top Two primary. That means, voters who are registered with a political party may only vote a Presidential Primary ballot containing the candidates for that political party. However, voters who are registered with no party chosen, independent or with a non-qualified political party may select a party’s ballot if that party has authorized them to cross-over and vote their party’s ballot. In the past, the Republicans have not allowed cross-over voting for President of the United States and the local party county central committee. The Democratic and American Independent parties have allowed cross-over voting for all partisan contests except for the local party county central committee


On June 8, 2010, California voters approved Proposition 14, which created the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act.

Except for the office of U.S. President and county central committee offices, offices that used to be known as "partisan offices" (e.g., state constitutional offices, U.S. Congress, and state legislative offices) are now known as "voter-nominated" offices.

Under the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, all candidates running in a primary election, regardless of their party preference, will appear on a single Primary Election ballot and voters can vote for any candidate. The top two overall vote-getters – not the top vote-getter from each qualified party and anyone using the independent nomination process – will move on to the General Election.

Candidates for voter-nominated office can choose whether to list their party preference on the Primary and General Election ballots. Political parties can no longer formally nominate candidates for voter-nominated offices, so a candidate who finishes in the top two at the Primary Election and advances to the General Election is not the official nominee of any party for the office.

In General Elections which occur in November of even-numbered years, all voters –regardless of political party – will receive the same ballot for their precinct that will contain each party’s nominee for each of the partisan offices.

When completing a voter registration affidavit either online or in person, there is a section where you may select a political party affiliation or make another choice. Currently, there are six qualified political parties; however, there are always new parties attempting to qualify.

In the POLITICAL PARTY section, make sure that you have either:

  1. Selected a qualified political party, or

  2. Check "I Decline to State a Political Party" or

  3. Check "Other" and either fill in the name of an unqualified political party, or fill in the word "Nonpartisan." Some voters consider themselves "Independent" and write that in under other. Please note, checking the box "American Independent" will register voters with that political party (see platform below). To register as an "Independent," voters must write the word in the blank space provided next to "Other."

  4. If no box is checked in this section, you will automatically be entered as "Nonpartisan."

No person shall be entitled to vote the ballot of any political party unless he or she has registered with that party. However, if a voter has declined to state a qualified political party affiliation, and the political party permits it, the unaffiliated voter may vote in the party's primary election.

The following pages contain a summary of the qualified political parties in California complete with the party’s statement and contact information. Statements were obtained from the political parties’ websites or were printed in the State Voter Pamphlet and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency. For more complete information, visit the political party’s website.



How to Qualify a New Political Party

Qualified political parties are entitled to have candidates identified with that political party standing for partisan offices on the ballot. In order for a party to have such identified candidates, that party must have already qualified to participate in the primary election or, if not qualified, must have completed all the qualification requirements by the 135th day before the next following primary election. At this time, the next primary election is scheduled for 2014.

Political bodies can qualify by registration or by petition for the 2010 primary election. The number of registrants or petition signers is based on a percentage of the number of persons who will have voted at the November 2, 2010 General Election.

To qualify a new political party by registration requires that 103,004 (1% of 10,300,392 votes cast at the last gubernatorial election) voters complete an affidavit of registration, on which they have written in the proposed party name as the party they affiliate with. These affidavits of registration must be completed and mailed in by the 154th day before the primary election.

To qualify a new political party by petition requires that 1,030,040 (10% of 10,300,392 votes cast at the last gubernatorial election) registered voters sign a petition seeking the inclusion of the proposed party in the party nominating process at the 2014 primary election. These petitions must be filed with the several counties by the proponent in such time that the counties verify the signatures and certify the counts to the Secretary of State who certifies the proposed party’s qualification not later than the 135th day before the primary election.

A process, allowing political bodies to become political parties, is contained in Division 5 of the Elections Code. To begin the process of qualifying, a political body should follow the procedure spelled out in Sections 5001 through 5003.


This guidebook is intended to provide general information about the formation of political bodies and does not have the force and effect of law, regulation, or rule. It is distributed with the understanding that the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s Office is not rendering legal advice and this memorandum is not a substitute for legal counsel for any person or group using it. In case of conflict, the law, regulation, or rule will apply. Interested persons should obtain the most up-to-date information available because of possible changes in law or procedure since the publication of this memorandum.