Upcoming primary elections: what you need to know


The presidential primaries for the are in full swing so far, but to many high school students who may not follow politics closely, it is unknown why they are so important.

The primaries determine the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties, who will face off in the general election to become president of the United States.

The Republican party will choose their nominee at the party’s convention in Cleveland on the week of July 18, 2015.  The Democratic nominee will be chosen at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia the following week.

The nominee for each party is decided by delegates, who are state officials that receive citizens’ votes in each state, and use those to choose a nominee at the National Convention for each party.

Each party also has superdelegates, who are high-ranked party officials from congressmen to former presidents. They represent the party establishment and choose whomever they want.

The other form of choosing a nominee for the general election is a caucus. Caucuses are very different from the primaries, because they require voters to gather in a public place to debate for their candidates, and to convince undecided voters of which candidate to choose. Caucuses are held in 13 states, including Iowa, which is the first state to choose their nominee for each party.

California’s primary election is on June 7. Our primary is modified, so any registered voter may vote, whether they are Republican, Democrat, or declined to state — where voters decline to tell the state which party they belong to.

The primary voting process is simple:

  1. Register to vote: this may be done on paper or online by any students 18 or older;
  2. Get educated and informed: check out the different candidates and learn about their proposed policies and views;
  3. Vote! This can be done either at a local polling place or from the comfort of your own home, as an absentee voter.  

“I really encourage all students to get engaged and get active. The 18-25 voting block is smallest voter turnout block, and I believe they could be some of the most informed and forward-thinking of all potential voters,” said history teacher William Gray. “It would be a great service to their community, their state and their country if they would participate in the democratic process.”