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CA Resolution Would Provide Nonpartisan “Public Ballot” Option for Presidential Primaries

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A spokesperson for Assemblymember Kristin Olsen’s office confirmed that, with the support of the Independent Voter Project (authors of California’s relatively new nonpartisan statewide primary system), a resolution will be filed in the California State Assembly on Friday that urges Secretary of State Alex Padilla to provide, in addition to the ballots issued for the political party primaries, a public presidential ballot that lists all the qualified candidates so that all voters have an opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice this election, regardless of the voter or the candidate’s party affiliation.

California Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and state Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) co-authored ACR 145, urging the secretary of state to issue a nonpartisan ballot for voters who either can’t or don’t want to vote in a political party’s primary election. The Independent Voter Project provided legal research to both legislators and the legislative analyst and had previously discussed its legal analysis with the secretary of state and his lawyers, including the issue of spending taxpayer dollars on an important stage of the public election process that is controlled exclusively by the private political parties.

“ACR 145 strikes a balance between the constitutionally-protected rights of voters to select a presidential candidate – regardless of political party preference – with the rights of political parties to determine who may or may not participate in their private nomination proceedings,” Assemblymember Olsen said. “We shouldn’t be disenfranchising voters in an open primary state by not giving them an opportunity to vote for the most important office in America.”

Under California’s statewide elections, voters can choose to vote for any candidate, regardless of the voter or the candidate’s party affiliation. However, for the presidential election, only Republican voters can vote for Republican candidates, and independent voters (called “No Party Preference”, or “NPP” voters in California) can only vote for Democratic, Libertarian, or American Independent candidates, and only if they actively request a ballot for these parties.

Voters who would want to vote for a Republican candidate would have to register as a Republican within fifteen (15) days of the election to do so.

If this sounds confusing, It is. And that is one of the concerns the resolution seeks to avoid:

“WHEREAS, Voters in California have become accustomed to voter-nominated primary elections, and therefore, voters are likely to be confused if they cannot vote for the candidate of their choice, with regard to political party preference.”

Additionally, the resolution states that, “Pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 5 of Article II of the California Constitution, the Legislature is required to provide for an open presidential primary election.” However, “[t]he Legislature has provided for a semi-closed primary election system, as reflected in Section 13102 of the Elections Code, under which a voter who is not registered as disclosing a preference with any one of the political parties participating in the election may vote a ballot of a political party only if the party, by party rule duly noticed to the Secretary of State, permits a person to do so.”

The resolution before the Assembly asks Padilla to exercise his authority to ensure that California voters get to vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not they register with a given political party.

“Resolved, That the Legislature urges the Secretary of State to prepare an advisory ballot for the presidential primary election that would allow a voter who did not request or vote a ballot of a political party in that election to submit an advisory vote for a candidate for the office of President of the United States; and be it further

 

Resolved, That the Legislature urges the Secretary of State to list on the advisory ballot each qualified candidate for the office of President of the United States, regardless of the candidate’s political party preference…”

According to the resolution, the parties will not be required to allow nonmembers to participate in their nomination proceedings nor would they be required to consider the results of the nonpartisan primary when selecting their party nominee for president. The resolution only asks the secretary of state to create a ballot that would open the process up more to independent voters who want to participate, but also don’t want to affiliate with a political party.

“A majority of new voters are choosing not to express a political party preference. Excluding them from this important stage of a publicly-funded election process of choosing the next president is voter discrimination. IVP is dedicated to protecting the voting rights of every voter regardless of political preferences,” says Dan Howle, co-chair of the Independent Voter Project.

Over the last two years, the Independent Voter Project has led a coalition of nonpartisan organization and 7 individual plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s closed primary system, which allows only Republican and Democratic party voters to participate, despite the state’s 47% independent voter registration. As court precedent stands today, a voter must join one of the two qualified political parties in that state as a condition of gaining the right to vote during the primary election.

IVP has expressed their intent to challenge this legal requirement in other states as part of a long-term strategy to protect the rights of every individual voter, regardless of his or her party affiliation.

Check out the full text of ACR 145 below:

Photo Credit: Brandon Bourdages / shutterstock.com

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183 comments
Registration blues
Registration blues

California, I have been trying to change from Independent status to Republican Party for a few weeks ...with many calls to California SOS office.Telling them I want to vote in the Republican primary...so I need to re-register as Republican. Still no luck...the Registration card they sent to me said... must choose one of the parties and the Republican party is NOT listed on the card. I have tried to re-register Republican online...now when I check I am not registered at all! I was cautioned by the SOS office that if you are signed up for the Independent party that is a party not that you can vote for candidate of your choice. We only think we have the right to vote...That I might have to re-register later to vote in the Presidential election.



Skip Standard
Skip Standard

I was given a ballot to vote in June for all the parties, except the Republican!! I live in Vallejo, Ca.!!

Skip Standard
Skip Standard

I was wrong!! If I wanted to vote early, I could only vote for the American Independent Party, Democratic Party, or the Libertarian Party or I can wait to vote in November!!

Registration blues
Registration blues

@Skip Standard Ya only after "they" pick the candidate...However, you can't vote in Primary

for a Republican unless you can somehow get registered in time for Primary election. 

Suzanne Monzon
Suzanne Monzon

The Electoral College ( state delegates) were necessary back in pre-telegraph & even telegraph says. Distance and lack of instant communication technology, made tabulating election's votes individually an inefficient impossibility. So local voters designated (DELIGATES ) to report their communal voted choices in "blocks" so votes could beore easily tabulated. This system is now so antiquated as to be usless... except it is so easily manipulsted to the benefit of the candidate, or party that pays the most & promises the most. We all know we can individually cast a vote, have it instantly tabulated and choose our American Idol! Why can't the American Prople have the same opportunity to directly vote for POTUS. oops then elections would be streamlined, convention halls obsolete, money spent on campaigns, put to solving American problems; like repairing infrastructure, healthy food in schools and nursing homes, creating jobs, bolstering our Military, taking care of our vets.... the possibilities are myriad. But we are so entrenched in outdated political tradition, the powers that be just will not take their heads out of the sandď

Zak Ezakovich
Zak Ezakovich

they are only practicing socialism. vote for Bernie and see how he will fit you in to the box and then control it.

Tom Rummel
Tom Rummel

True. But the parties' central committee decides who gets the funding. This is a big reason why it's important to vote in the primaries--who will be on your central committee.

Richard Flynn
Richard Flynn

absolutely...considering registering Independent...haven't been happy with either party lately

Corky Henderson
Corky Henderson

In California the Democratic Party primary is open to independents but the republican is not.

Skip Standard
Skip Standard

Very true, I just received a ballot in the mail allowing me to vote in June for all parties except the Republican!! I'm registered as an Independent!!


Corky Henderson
Corky Henderson

There's places like New Jersey that do not allow independents to vote.

Barb MacNeil
Barb MacNeil

Corky Henderson I'm an Independent and we vote in primaries. However, it's the delegates and super delegates whose votes count.

Skip Standard
Skip Standard

I do a lot of write-ins in the local elections!! All of Disney's cartoon characters get voted for by me!!


Kathy Gray
Kathy Gray

When our Nation was founded it was For the People, not for the party.

Joseph King
Joseph King

in Calif. anybody can vote, just get a driver's license...legal illegal, citizen, dead or alive, dog or cat, whoever...

Skip Standard
Skip Standard

Yea, Gov. Brown likes for illegal aliens to vote in all elections!!

Tony Melson
Tony Melson

Democrates & Republicans have set up everything so that no other party has a change to get elected.

Robert Joy
Robert Joy

Yes they certainly should be allowed to have a voice in every single election.

Glenn Hall
Glenn Hall

Oh, a Republican bill to exert more Republican influence in California than there are Republican voters. Democrats have a right to choose who will be the Democrat nominee. If you are registered in the Peace and Freedom Party, you don't want the Republicans to determine who the Peace and Freedom Party can nominate for President! They will have their vote in November. Let them have it. But let the Peace and Freedom Party, the Green Party, and every other Party, decide among themselves who is the best candidate to represent them on the ballot in November.

Susie Cannon
Susie Cannon

Yes. Why pick a side when you don't know the players.

Russell Desmond
Russell Desmond

The real problem is that in the prinaries, which are party elections, not state or federal, you have to join the candidates party before you can vote for him/her. I say, stop the primary elections and just have a general election with a majority winner. The Constitution never called for political parties or preliminary elections anyway!

Jim Plantz
Jim Plantz

Actually Democrats have controlled Congress many more years than the GOP. Lets see..... I'm pretty shure it was a Dem Congress that deregulated Wall Street before the crash. As for manipulation, they already do that. That's how incumbents stay in Congress and how establishment candidates get elected in both parties.

Jim Plantz
Jim Plantz

Yes, the Two Party System should be a no party system.

Theresa Lea Cormier
Theresa Lea Cormier

That's the crux of it, yet another way for gov't. to distract and manipulate elections.....

Nick Dunn
Nick Dunn

ONLY TRUMP CAN SAVE OUR COUNTRY FROM THIS HELL !!!!

Joanne Rooney
Joanne Rooney

As long as you're at it, divide the Electoral votes proportionately to the votes cast for each candidate. Don't think it is right for California to tip the scales with 55 votes.

L Giulio Masini
L Giulio Masini

"10 Most Popular Socialist Leaders Around the World" 10. J.V. Stalin 9. Vladimir Lenin 8. Mao Zedong 7. Che Guevara 6. Salvador Allende 5. Dilma Rousseff 4. Fidel Castro 3. Evo Morales 2. Nicolás Maduro 1. Hugo Chavez

Tim Sisco
Tim Sisco

No. There's no reason for that!

Suzanne Monzon
Suzanne Monzon

Popular vote across all parties! Lets c what allAmericans really want --- not just the "partied" few!

Liz Cotten
Liz Cotten

YES. Drain the swamp. Independent registered voters should have the right to vote for any candidate of any party in both primaries and general elections.

Todd McGrady
Todd McGrady

This is a move for illegals to vote.,.wake up

Carrie Grimmett
Carrie Grimmett

Yes! People shouldn't have to be beholden to a political party to vote for their choice in leadership.

Parvin Jannsen
Parvin Jannsen

Wait a minute this site is run by GOP ,not fair!

Alfred Cabrera
Alfred Cabrera

Why not let independents vote for whoever they want. Why should parties limit the selections.

John Smith
John Smith

That way Hillary will get all those votes. With Democrats in Charge they will distribute the votes as they see fit.

Parvati Bergamo
Parvati Bergamo

You do realize that the parties switched ideologies decades ago, don't you, Wynn?