For one thing, boundaries have been redrawn for state and U.S. Congressional districts, significantly changing the constituent base for elected representatives.
What's more, thanks to the California electorate's approval of Proposition 14 in 2010, voters no longer have to cast ballots along party lines in a dozen primary races — for U.S. Congress, state Legislature and top state officials. Instead, all candidates are eligible to receive a voter's endorsement; the top two vote-getters per race will face a run-off in November's general election.
This year, Proposition 14 affects the bids for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and state Senate and Assembly.
Two Democrats with experience in the state Assembly, incumbent Jerry Hill and former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, are competing for the newly redrawn state Senate District 13, along with Democratic teacher Christopher Chiang and Libertarian John Webster. And in the Assembly, one-term Democratic incumbent Rich Gordon is being challenged by Republican Chengzhi "George" Yang, a software engineer; Democratic business owner Geby Espinosa; and Joseph Antonelli Rosas, a network security adviser who declared no party affiliation.
Santa Clara County is also electing a new supervisor and asking voters to weigh in on Measure A, which determines the government branch in control of the county jail.
Those vying to be on the Board of Supervisors are termed-out state Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), two-time Cupertino Mayor Kris Huyilan Wang and Cupertino City Councilman Barry Chang.
Also on the ballot, though not included in this voters' guide, are two open Superior Court judgeships. Five attorneys are seeking election in those two races.
Ballots were mailed this week to absentee voters. This year, a new "drive-through" drop off will be available in some areas of the county for returning mail-in ballots, according to Registrar of Voters spokeswoman Elma Rosas.