Three Parties to Allow Unaligned Voters to Cast Ballots in California Primaries

October 28, 2019 Updated: October 30, 2019

Voters with no political party preference can vote in the California Democratic Party primary election, but only registered Republicans can cast ballots for GOP nominees in their party’s contest.

The state’s Democratic, American Independent, and Libertarian parties recently notified California Secretary of State Alex Padilla they will allow “No Party Preference” voters to cast ballots in their 2020 primary elections set for March 3.

However, only those registered with the Republican, Green, and the Peace and Freedom parties will be able to vote in those parties’ primaries.

“It’s been our long-standing position that Republicans should pick the Republican nominee,” said Cynthia Bryant, executive director of the California Republican Party in an email to The Epoch Times.

Millions of Californians—more than 28 percent of the state’s voters—are registered as “no party preference,” according to an Oct. 21 government media release. As of Feb. 10, 2019, there were 5,645,665 voters in California registered with “No Party Preference,” an increase from 4,177,648 ahead of the 2016 Presidential primaries.

Historically, California has been one of the last to hold its primary elections, but in 2017, state legislators moved up the primaries by three months to the first Tuesday in March—along with more than a dozen other states—calling it Super Tuesday.

Voters who wish to vote in the Republican, Green, or Peace and Freedom party’s presidential primary elections must re-register to vote and change their preference to the respective party.

All U.S. citizens who are California residents and eligible to vote can verify their voter registration at VoterStatus.sos.ca.gov.

Voters who wish to register with a political party or change their affiliation can do so at RegisterToVote.ca.gov.

Crossover Voting

“As we enter the fifth election cycle under the ‘Top Two Primary’ system, California voters have become increasingly accustomed to voting for the candidates of their choice regardless of political party preference,” Padilla said in the release. “The Presidential Primary, however, remains the exception. Voters registered as ‘No Party Preference’ have the option of requesting a ballot that includes presidential candidates of a political party that allows ‘cross-over’ voting.”

Californians who are registered to vote with “No Party Preference” may request an American Independent Party, Democratic Party, or Libertarian Party presidential primary ballot. If a “No Party Preference” voter does not request a crossover ballot, they will receive a primary election ballot without any presidential candidates listed. “No Party Preference” voters who vote in person may simply request their crossover ballot when checking in at the polls.

“No Party Preference” voters who vote by mail will receive a postcard from their county elections official in advance that will allow them to select an American Independent Party, Democratic Party, or Libertarian Party ballot. A “No Party Preference” voter may select which party’s ballot they would like and return the postcard by mail. These postcards will be sent in advance of vote-by-mail ballots. Voters who do not respond to this postcard will be mailed a ballot without any presidential candidates listed, but can still request a crossover ballot from their county elections official by phone, email or fax.

Voters can also take their nonpartisan vote-by-mail ballot to their polling place or any vote center in a Voters’ Choice Act county and exchange it for a ballot with presidential candidates from the American Independent, Libertarian, or Democratic Party.

Political Antics

In July, California Democrats took aim at President Donald Trump, who has steadfastly refused to disclose his tax returns, by passing a law intended to coerce him to do so. However, the law has been blocked by a federal court for appearing unconstitutional.

Called the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, Senate Bill 27, authored by Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) and Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would require candidates for U.S. president and California governor to disclose five years of tax returns at least 98 days before the state’s primary election in order to appear on the ballot. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 27 into law on July 30.

In his Oct. 1 ruling blocking the law, U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. stated: “The Court finds that Plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their arguments that the Act 1) violates the Presidential Qualifications Clause contained in Article II of the United States Constitution; 2) deprives Plaintiffs of their rights to associate and/or to access the ballot, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution; 3) further violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause as set forth in the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation, Senate Bill 149 in September 2017, stating: “This bill is a response to President Trump’s refusal to release his returns during the last election. While I recognize the political attractiveness—even the merits—of getting President Trump’s tax returns, I worry about the political perils of individual states seeking to regulate presidential elections in this manner. First, it may not be constitutional. Second, it sets a ‘slippery slope’ precedent. Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?”

California Republicans have denounced SB 27 as unconstitutional and applauded the court’s decision to block it.

Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) said in a statement that the Oct. 1 “ruling is a victory for the constitutional rights of Americans and our democracy. Legislative Republicans have argued that SB 27 is unconstitutional, and this court ruling reaffirms this stance. The majority party attempted to interfere with the upcoming primary election and their efforts were unsuccessful.”

“Now that the written ruling is out, I urge Governor Newsom to accept this decision and not pursue an appeal, which will only waste taxpayer dollars,” she said.

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