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Why you have to vote twice in California’s Senate race

When
voters
in
California
head
to
the
polls
on
Tuesday
they
will
find
two
U.S.
Senate
races
on
their
primary
ballots.

The
races
are
for
the
same
Senate
seat
held
for
three
decades
by
Dianne
Feinstein
(D),
who
died
in
September.
After
her
death,
Gov.
Gavin
Newsom
(D)
appointed
Laphonza
Butler
to
fill
the
seat
until
a
special
election
could
be
held.

A
few
days
after
Butler
was
appointed
to
the
seat,
she
announced
she
would
not
run
for
a
full
senate
term.
That
helped
set
off
races
for
a
rare
open
Senate
seat
in
the
heavily
Democratic-leaning
state.
Dozens
of
people
jumped
at
the
chance
to
run.

Under
a
California

law

enacted
in
2022,
if
a
senator
vacates
their
seat
more
than
148
days
before
the
next
regularly
scheduled
statewide
primary,
the
state
is
required
to
hold
a
special
election
on
the
same
day
as
the
regularly
scheduled
primary
election.

The
special
election
will
determine
who
will
serve
the
remainder
of
Feinstein’s
term,
which
ends
in
January.
The
regularly
scheduled
primary
is
for
the
full
six-year
term
that
begins
with
the
next
Congress.

The
leading
candidates
in
the
race
include
Democratic
House
members
Adam
Schiff,
Katie
Porter
and
Barbara
Lee
as
well
as
former
Major
League
Baseball
player
Steve
Garvey,
who
is
a
Republican.
In
California
primaries,
the
top
two
vote-getters
advance
to
November’s
general
election,
regardless
of
party.

Holding
two
races
for
the
same
seat
on
the
same
primary
ballot
is
enough
to
make
even
the
most
seasoned
political
veterans’
heads
spin,
let
alone
voters
who
may
not
realize
there’s
an
additional
Senate
race
before
heading
to
the
polls.

“I
get
confused
of
what’s
going
on,
and
I’m
the
head
of
the
California
Voter
Foundation,”
Kim
Alexander,
founder
and
president
of
the
nonpartisan,
nonprofit
organization
whose
goal
is
to
improve
voting
in
the
state.
“If
I’m
having
questions
when
I’m
voting,
it’s
probably
much
harder
for
the
typical
voter
out
there.”

The
Senate
races
are
“taking
up
a
lot
of
ballot
real
estate,”
Alexander
said.
She
added
that
having
to
explain
how
to
vote
takes
away
time
and
resources
that
candidates
and
activists
could
dedicate
to
addressing
any
number
of
issues
facing
California
right
now.

She
added:
“It’s
a
waste
of
people’s
time
and
attention,”
since
the
special
election
is
for
a
Senate
term
that
only
lasts
a
few
months.

Because
of
the
double-billing
on
the
ballot,
Senate
candidates
had
to
lobby
voters
for
their
support
and
also
educate
them
on
how
to
vote.

Schiff
posted

a
minute-long
video

on
his
campaign
website
where
he
walks
voters
through
the
ballot.
“This
is
super
important
so
I’m
going
to
try
to
be
really
brief,”
Schiff
says
in
the
video,
standing
in
front
of
a
giant
sample
ballot.

Porter,
famous
for
using
whiteboards
to
make
visual
points
during
congressional
hearings,

used
them
again

to
educate
voters
on
her
website
and
on
social
media.
And
Lee
has
made
Vote
Twice

part
of
her
bio
on
X.

“Quite
a
bit
of
our
campaign
has
been
about
educating
voters,”
Lee
told
The
Washington
Post
on
Monday,
referring
to
her
record
and
the
voting
process.
“It’s
up
to
candidates
to
drill
down
a
bit,”
she
said.
Lee
also
said
she’s
had
success
explaining
the
voting
process
to
voters.
“We
clarify
that
for
voters,”
she
said.

Schiff
poured
a
large
amount
of
money
into
the
race,
including
ads
that

focused
on
Garvey
,
seemingly
to
help
elevate
the
Republican
candidate
to
the
general
election
race
rather
than
one
of
his
Democratic
challengers.

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