'No Party Preference': What you have to do to vote in the California Primary

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The impeachment hearing in Washington reflects the on-going divide between Democrats and Republicans.

But here in the Bay Area, the two parties have some common ground. Both are losing registered voters to those with no party preference.

It's a trend that concerns Republicans and Democrats. A third of all voters in Santa Clara County, almost 300,000 people, have registered as "No Party Preference," or "NPP." Year by year, the number is growing.

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"As people aren't involved in the decision-making process of the parties as to who the nominees will be, we see more polarization, and it kind of feeds upon itself," said Shane Patrick Connolly, chair of the Santa Clara County Republican Party.

While Santa Clara County is leading the way with nearly a third of its voters with no party preference, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Alameda counties are close behind, ranging from 28 to 31 percent, according to the California Secretary of State's office.

No Party Preference voters are not shutout of the presidential primary.

Santa Clara County will be sending out postcards to let them choose a ballot for American Independent, Democratic or Libertarian candidates.

The state Republican Party has decided not to allow this to prevent people from selecting a less desirable candidate to run against opposition party candidates.

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"Regardless of how they register, I think that overwhelmingly American and California voters really vote their conscience in what they think is in their interest and in the best interest of society," said Bill James, chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party.

Santa Clara County voters with No Party Preference will be getting postcards asking if they'd like to vote for a party's candidates in the primary.

The appropriate ballot can be printed on the spot, saving the county tens of thousands of dollars.

"Now we can just print a ballot out on demand for a voter instead of having to pre-stock each location with thousands of ballots," said Shannon Bushey, county registrar of voters.

The voter may also make that decision at the polling place. Those choosing not to cross over, as it's called, will have no party candidates on their ballot.

If that process is confusing or unclear to voters, it has been estimated up to a million No Party Preference voters might not participate in the presidential primary in California.

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