Bernie Sanders Backers Sue Over 'Mass Confusion' in California
It all has to do with 'no party preference' voters
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2016 10:11 AM CDT
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves to supporters at a rally on Sunday, May 22, 2016, in Vista, Calif.   (AP Photo/Sandy Huffaker)

(Newser) – "There's mass confusion," William Simpich tells the Los Angeles Times. He's the attorney who on Friday filed a federal lawsuit over California's Democratic presidential primary, and the particulars of the case are a bit confusing as well. When Californians elect California officials, they can vote for anyone on the ballot, regardless of party. The same isn't true for the political primaries, which take place in the state June 7. In this case, the parties make the rules. Only registered Republicans can cast a ballot for a Republican candidate, but the Democrats are allowing residents with "no party preference" to vote—kind of. The Bernie Sanders-supporting Voting Rights Defense Project is among the plaintiffs, who want state elections officials to be required to launch a public awareness campaign between now and May 31, the last day for requesting a ballot by mail.

The ballot by mail is the real point of contention. As KPCC explains, "no party preference" voters can ask for a "crossover ballot" that lets them vote in the Democratic primary. Simpich tells the station that if they don't ask for that ballot, and write in Sanders or Hillary Clinton on the blank ballot they will be sent, it "won't count." A local voter analytics expert tells the San Francisco Chronicle, "The Democratic (primary) was sold to voters as an open primary, but ... it's more like a closed primary with an option for people to get into it." And it's not a paltry sum: He says about 2.1 million independents vote via mail in the state. The plaintiffs would also like to see voter registration go right up to June 7. New York Magazine notes the reported confusion is a legitimate concern for Sanders, whose "support among independents has given him a boost in almost every Democratic primary to date."
 

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