Background and Timeline
In July of 2019, the Independent Voter Project (IVP) and 6 individual plaintiffs sued the California Secretary of State, arguing that the state is violating the California constitution by failing to conduct an open primary for Presidential elections. The complaint alleges 6 distinct violations of state and federal voting rights laws.
For almost 10 years, the Independent Voter Project has warned the California legislature that, due to its confusing and unconstitutional presidential primary, millions of voters are confused and disenfranchised.
In 2016, California's presidential primary was marked by massive voter confusion.
In 2019, Independent Voter Project filed its lawsuit to prevent another disaster.
Without intervention, as IVP predicted, California's presidential primary caused massive voter confusion again in 2020.
In 2024, if nothing changes, California's presidential primary will be a disaster again.
In April of 2023, the was appealed to the California Supreme Court.
On October 17, 2023, the Independent Voter Project filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States.
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.
The Independent Voter Project (IVP), author of California's nonpartisan, top-two statewide primary, 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.
In 2019, 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 attorney 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.”
On July 23, 2019, IVP and 6 plaintiffs sued the California Secretary of State, alleging 6 distinct violations of state and federal voting rights laws, including a state constitutional requirement that California conduct an open presidential primary.
In addition to the legal action, IVP has collected more than 10,000 signatures from registered California voters 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.
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