SAN DIEGO — The first stage in the 2022 midterm elections has arrived, and California voters might still be a little groggy from the governor recall election.

If you’re just now getting up to speed, we don’t blame you — and we’ve got the guide for you.

What’s on the ballot in June’s election?

Contests will help determine who leads the county’s second-largest city of Chula Vista, who speaks for various parts of our region in Congress, and (yes, again) who will serve as the state’s governor. In San Diego, about half of the influential City Council’s seats are up for grabs.

County voters will also pick the new sheriff in town after 12-year incumbent Bill Gore recently retired.

The California State Assembly gets a blank slate as every office in the state legislative body is up for grabs in two-year terms. That includes all eight districts that cover portions of the San Diego region, meaning every local voter will get to pick at least one state lawmaker.

Even-numbered California State Senate seats are also up for grabs, so a second California legislator will be on the ballot for people in four local districts.

Sprinkle in some other statewide seats, including a U.S. senator, attorney general and lieutenant governor, and you have a stacked list of offices to weigh in on.

How do California’s primary elections work?

Primary elections are typically used to narrow down the field, selecting two candidates to move on to the general election. In this case, that will be the November midterms.

You might notice some unfamiliar names and numbers on your ballot. Re-districting shook up California’s political boundaries, making some races more competitive and potentially changing the people who represent you on various levels of the government. Check out these handy maps to determine your new voting districts.

It’s also important to keep in mind that California has a “top-two” primary system. That means regardless of their party affiliation, the two candidates with the most votes for a statewide office will move on to the November election. Voters’ final decision in a race could come down to two Democrats or two Republicans, depending on how June turns out.

In some elections, a candidate who wins their primary by a significant enough margin — more than 50% — can win the office outright, without ever competing in the general election. This year, that’s the case only for San Diego Superior Court judges. Everyone else will compete again in the general election regardless of their margin of victory.

When and how to vote in the June primary

As the San Diego County Registrar puts it, “elections are no longer a one-day event” in California. Mail voting, ballot drop-off boxes and expanded polling place hours are here to stay, after seeing significant expansion during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ballots were mailed to every registered voter on May 9 and voting has been possible by mail and at ballot drop box locations since that time.

If you haven’t received your ballot, this page has resources that can help you track its status and reach out to the registrar if its lost or you need to re-register.

Here are some other important dates to keep in mind:

  • May 23 – This is the deadline to register to vote, though it’s a relatively soft deadline.
    • If you miss it, you can still register in person at any local vote center through Election Day.
  • May 28 – Select in-person vote centers open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 6
  • June 4 – All remaining vote centers open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 6
  • June 7 – It’s Election Day! All vote centers and ballot drop boxes open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    • Mail ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the Registrar within seven days

Need more help? Here are some further helpful links: