California Bill to Allow Open Presidential Primaries Fails Passage of Key Committee
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – The Independent Voter Project (IVP) announced Wednesday that ACR-145, sponsored by Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), which would provide all voters, regardless of political party affiliation, the ability to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice failed passage of the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting. Assemblymembers Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) and Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) voted in favor of the resolution.
“While today’s committee decision was disappointing, I firmly believe that this is the direction California voters want our primaries to go in,” said Olsen. “Every voter should be able to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice – no matter their party preference.”
“Every year, more and more Californians are choosing to not affiliate with a political party. We simply must provide means for those citizens to participate in our democracy and in the elections that they help to pay for,” said State Senator Cannella. “Though I am a proud Republican, I have and will continue to protect the rights of my entire constituency - regardless of their partisan affiliation or nonaffiliation. All Californians should have a voice in the political process and ACR 145 would have allowed that.”
ACR 145, which was co-authored by Assemblymember Tom Daly (D-Orange) and sponsored by the Independent Voter Project urged Secretary of State Alex Padilla to provide an additional, nonpartisan presidential ballot that lists all the qualified candidates so that voters - regardless of their affiliation or nonaffiliation with a major political party – would have an opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice this election. The state would have continued to distribute partisan primary ballots to Democratic and Republican voters. The resolution would have allowed for the creation of a nonpartisan “public ballot” for voters who either can’t or don’t want to vote in a political party’s primary election to participate in the presidential primary.
“This is about fundamental fairness and the protection of every Californian’s right to vote,” said Dan Howle, co-chair of the Independent Voter Project. “If Californians are funding these primary elections with public funds, then every Californian should have a voice in the election process for the most important political office in the country.”
Over the last two years, IVP has led a coalition of nonpartisan organization and seven 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 its 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.