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California’s Suppression of 5.6 Million Voters

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - Imagine that California’s 4.7 million Republican and 8.6 million Democrat voters were not able to vote for a presidential candidate of their choice in March 2020.

And NO ONE seemed to care.

California’s 5.6 million NPP voters don’t have to imagine, because for the state's second-largest voting bloc by a wide margin, this IS their reality. Even though California’s constitution requires an “open presidential primary,” meaning every voter is supposed to be able to vote for whomever they want, they cannot.

This is a fundamental civil rights issue that contributes directly to the suppression of voter rights and magnification of partisanship.

The issue has the attention of state election officials. They are not only planning a massive education effort to ensure NPP voters are aware of the complicated primary election rules, but also calling on elected officials to adequately address the problem.

California’s Voter Registrars Are Concerned

California’s 58 county registrars are well aware of this ballot flaw, which they say is going to lead to the mass confusion in March.

“We are planning an extensive outreach and education effort in this area and will need the support of all political parties, presidential campaigns, interested organizations and the media to be in sync with us to reduce any confusion," said San Diego County Registrar Michael Vu on the effort to educate California voters on the confusing semi-closed presidential primary rules.

Inyo County Registrar Kammi Foote said of the rules of independent (NPP) voters:

"All registered voters should have the opportunity to vote for the Presidential candidate of their choice. Our lawmakers should be doing everything possible to make voting accessible to all citizens, regardless of their party affiliation, or lack thereof."

Did You Know? In 2016, 88% of the independent voters who participated in the statewide election had a blank ballot for president.

Movement Gains National Traction

A growing coalition of national and local organizations have signed on in support, including: The National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers (which represents more than 30 reform organizations), RepresentUs, Alliance San Diego Mobilization Fund, Open Primaries, FairVote, and many more.

These organizations span the ideological spectrum, but all agree that a voter’s right to participate in a taxpayer-funded election should not be subject to the control of any private political party. In fact, it is this First Amendment “right of non-association” the Supreme Court recognized in Democratic Party v. Jones to close California’s old “open blanket” primary.

“No voter should have to join a party or participate in a party’s private nomination process as a condition of exercising their fundamental right of vote in an important and taxpayer-funded election process," says Independent Voter Project legal advisor Chad Peace.

The Independent Voter Project has just launched a video to educate and activate the electorate:

ADD YOUR NAME: End Independent Voter Suppression

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