San Diego, Calif.- Voters and registrars from across the state of California are not happy with their 2020 Presidential primary election experience. From not receiving a correct ballot, to not being able to vote for the candidate of their choice, or in the case of LA area voters, long wait times, there’s a growing call for ballot clarity and simplification to the Presidential primary.

Following the election, IVP conducted a survey of more than 500 statewide voters gauging their satisfaction with the primary. The responses were overwhelmingly negative and bipartisan. Republican, Democrat, American Independents (many mistakenly registered AIP) and NPP voters expressed their frustrations with the Secretary of State’s system. The responses are from voters representing Redding to San Diego and can be found here.

The ballot frustrations have also manifested into frustration for County Registrars across California, where ballot counting has led to long delays in the official results being published. This is due in no small part to the hundreds of thousands of ballots, if not millions, having to be hand counted due to confused NPP voters.

San Diego County Registrar Michael Vu spoke to the complex nature of the California Presidential primary election, “Every four years we conduct arguably one of the most complex and confusing elections with ourPresidential primary. This year’s new rules regarding conditional voter registration at the polls, made an already challenging process more complex for voters, more complex for poll workers and more complex for the administration of elections. As election policies are considered, an equal amount of attention must be examined on whether the foundation of election administration can support and sustain them. There are real consequences when it cannot.”

Inyo County Registrar of Voters Kami Foote noted, “After what we just saw with same day registration party switches and people who didn't understand the NPP vote by mail process, we need to make some changes.”

And Dean Logan, registrar for Los Angeles county, “The parties set the rules. The presidential primary is not designed with voters in mind.” 

Legislative Solution

The IndependentVoter Project has a legislative and legal solution, AB 2207, that would simplify the voting process for nearly 6 million NPP voters across the state of California by providing a public ballot option featuring all qualified presidential candidates, regardless of party.

Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula of the 31st District has agreed to bring AB 2207 to the legislature for consideration. “With an increasing number of independent and No Party Preference voters in California, we should bring consistency and openness to our state’s voting system. Assembly Bill 2207 doesn’t change the political parties’ decisions over ballots cast in California's presidential primary held every four years; it will ensure that every voter has the ability to cast a ballot for a candidate without regard to party affiliation," said Assemblymember Arambula.  "It’s only fair that there be the addition of a public presidential primary ballot that includes all candidates running for president. AB 2207 also would increase notification efforts from county election offices to NPP voters about their options to request a particular party’s ballot, as long as that party allows crossover voting. The more information and support we can provide voters, the better.”

In addition to Assemblymember Arambula’s support, more than 30 national and local groups backAB 2207 including: FairVote, RepresentUS, OpenPrimaries, and Alliance San Diego.

Chad Peace, attorney for the IVP noted, “Voting should not be this difficult. The confusing rules disenfranchise millions of voters and worse, are unnecessary. IVP has authored and presented a simple fix in AB 2207 and we, along with our national coalition, encourage the legislature to implement this solution.”

Legal Remedy

In addition to the legislative solution, IVP is one of 7 plaintiffs suing the California Secretary of State, claiming that the State is violating the state’s constitution by failing to conduct an open primary for Presidential elections.

IVP Chairman Dan Howle characterized the issue as being fairly simple, “The law and common sense are both clear. Let the political parties keep their own ballots. Let the parties exclude or include whoever they want. Let the parties decide their own rules of nomination. But give every voter their fundamental right to participate at every stage of the taxpayer-funded public election process.”

Broad Support for AB 2207

IVP’s solution has been supported by a large coalition of reform organizations, including the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, OpenPrimaries, FairVote,, Unite America, Serve America Movement, Alliance San Diego, California Forward, and California’s Common Sense Party.

Additional background information and case briefs can be found here:

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