San Diego, Calif.- The Independent Voter Project (IVP), author of California’s nonpartisan statewide primary system, 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.
The complaint alleges 6 distinct violations of state and federal voting rights laws.
In 2016, 4.7 million NPP (No Party Preference) voters and half a million voters improperly registered as AIP were denied the right to vote in a Presidential primary that was the subject of widespread confusion and criticism.
IVP first raised this issue in 2015 when it shared a simple solution with Secretary of State Alex Padilla and several state legislators. Despite support from California registrars, numerous state and national reform organizations, and multiple legal options, neither acted before the 2016 Presidential primary.
This year, IVP was joined by the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers -- representing more than 30 voter rights organizations -- in sponsoring legislation to require a public presidential ballot for NPP voters who choose not to join a political party or select a partisan ballot.
That legislation was derailed by the National Democratic Party, according to the bill’s author.
IVP Legal Counsel, Chad Peace, said, “We are disappointed with our friends in Sacramento. But we understand the pressure from both national political parties. This is a straightforward voting rights case. The Democrats erect a barrier to ballot access by insisting that NPPs request a separate Democratic ballot. The Republicans simply deny NPP voters access to their ballot altogether. The political parties are legally entitled to do this. The State, however, is legally obligated to provide access to the ballot box for every California voter, regardless of their political party choice.”
In addition to the legal action, IVP has collected more than 10,000 signatures from registered California voters who have signed this petition supporting a “public ballot” option that would allow the state’s 5.6 million NPP voters to vote for any presidential candidate, regardless of party affiliation.
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.”