This week, AB 837 passed the California Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill requires polling places across the state to put up giant posters during presidential primaries that inform independent voters (registered as No Party Preference) on which parties allow them to participate in “their” primary.
On Wednesday, April 26, representatives from the Independent Voter Project (a co-publisher of IVN) went to Sacramento to voice their opposition to the bill. While the Independent Voter Project strongly encourages voter education opportunities, this bill — introduced by Assemblymember Evan Low and supported by Secretary of State Alex Padilla — doesn’t solve any problems with the presidential primary in California. The semi-closed system in place is not only cumbersome and confusing to many voters, it contradicts Article II, Section 5 of the state constitution, which explicitly says there must be an open presidential primary.
The Independent Voter Project argues that AB 837 is just providing cover for the establishment and doesn’t actually try to make the system better for voters.
In 2016, the Independent Voter Project worked with members of the California legislature to draft a resolution that urged the secretary of state to provide a nonpartisan ballot option for the presidential primaries. On this ballot, NPP voters would be able to vote for the candidate of their choice, regardless of that candidate’s party affiliation.
ACR 145 did not require political parties to take the results of the nonpartisan ballot into consideration, thereby maintaining both the parties’ right to not associate with non-members and the voters’ fundamental right to participate at all meaningful stages of an election.
The resolution died in committee, but the Independent Voter Project continues to call on state lawmakers and the state’s chief elections administrator (Padilla) to bring California’s elections in line with the state constitution.
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