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California's Presidential Primaries

Coalition for the Public Primary Ballot

We have legislation to give every voter full access to the presidential primary.
We have drafted a lawsuit to ensure taxpayer-funded primaries also serve the 5.6 million California voters who exercise their right NOT to associate with a political party.
Join the growing coalition of voting rights advocates supporting IVP’s “Public Primary” initiative.

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The Facts

It’s simple. Taxpayer funded elections should serve every voter, regardless of party.

California’s constitution requires an “open presidential primary”.

California actually conducts a “semi-closed” primary.

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As a result, millions of California’s voters were confused, and denied their full right to vote in 2016, including 5.6 million independents (“No Party Preference”).

Approximately 400,000 California voters were mistakenly registered as “American Independent” in 2016, and could not exercise their right to vote.

Taxpayers fund California’s presidential primary.

The parties do not have to let non-party members vote in their primaries.

An independent candidate has no way to participate in California’s presidential primary.

California public primary ballot option example graphic

What They're Saying

“Through this reform, millions of nonpartisan California voters will get their rightful seat at the table in choosing the next President of the United States. The status quo that will leave these voters out in 2020 is anti-democratic. In Maine, we fought back against the status quo and won and I have every confidence that California voters will fight just as hard and win.” Cara McCormick, Lead the effort for Maine’s landmark Ranked Choice Voting reform

“Anyone who runs for office, no matter what their political affiliation is, should be a champion of democracy. And I believe independent voters should have the opportunity to vote, their voices need to be heard, open up the primaries.” Nina Turner, Former President of Our Revolution and Co-chair of Bernie 2020

"An expression of our democracy would be that an independent candidate should have the same opportunity, and play by the same rules that should not prevent an independent candidate from competing on a level playing field. " Howard Schultz, Former Starbucks CEO and Potential Independent Presidential Candidate 2020

Since 2006, Independent Voter has been fighting to give ALL voters an equal voice.

Getting a nonpartisan bill passed in today’s partisan political environment is not easy.

It’s going to take all of US, coming together to make lasting election reform possible.

We need YOUR support to mount these serious challenges.

Make history with US.


*Article II, Section 5(c) of the California Constitution says, “[t]he Legislature shall provide for partisan elections for presidential candidates, and political party and party central committees, including an open presidential primary.”

**If you visit the California secretary of state’s website, here’s what it says:

How are presidential primary elections conducted in California?

Qualified political parties in California may hold presidential primaries in one of two ways:

  • Closed presidential primary— only voters indicating a preference for a party may vote for that party’s presidential nominee.
  • Modified-closed presidential primary—the party also allows voters who did not state a party preference to vote for that party’s presidential nominee.