As you may be aware, if you’re a registered independent in California and vote by mail, you’re going to have to send in a postcard either to the Secretary of State or to your county registrar recorder to let them know which party’s ballot you want.
Confused? You’re not alone, as the state legislature has done little to fix the ballot issue that frustrated nearly 80% of the state’s registered independent voters (registered No Party Preference, NPP) in 2016.
The Independent Voter Project (IVP) has proposed creating a “public ballot” for independents, which would include all of the candidates running for president in all parties.
IVP attorney Chad Peace joined host Libby Denkmann with NPR on KPCC 89.3 to discuss the issue that will no doubt impact the state’s 5.6 million NPP voters. Listen to the interview:
“As of today, the millions of NPP voters receive by default a ballot that is blank for President of the United States. All IVP is saying, instead of giving NPP voters a default ballot that is blank, why not give them a default ballot that lists all the candidates and allows voters to participate and express their preference?”
One of the guests joining the program was Shawn Steel, the Republican National Committeeman for California and former chair of the California Republican Party.
Steel voiced support for the IVP solution:
Additionally, Rusty Hicks, chair of the California Democratic Party and recent past president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor joined the discussion.
Hicks noted that IVP’s mission of reducing barriers is important, but said he didn’t want to give NPP voters a false impression. He said it’s important to recognize the voting bloc, but that this is an evolving issue that will take time to solve.
IVP was not afforded an opportunity to respond to Hicks’ comments, so we are offering our response to Hicks here:
The Democratic Party could, tomorrow, choose to include all the results of the public primary and open the ballot for No Party Preference voters. The barrier is removed, and the problem is solved.
The host and the Democratic chair seem to misunderstand that a public primary will NOT allow voters to vote IN the Republican and Democratic primaries. It will simply allow voters to express their vote for any candidate.
As the party representatives know, the candidates are decided at the party conventions.
If the parties don't want to consider the votes of independents, that is up to them. But, we should let these nearly 6 million California voters express themselves.
The Independent Voter Project is ready and willing to work with any party that is ready to remove the barriers of participation for independent voters. With the parties' help, it would be quite easy.