Independent Voter Project

Letter of Opposition to California No Party Preference Voter/Partisan Primary Elections Bill, AB 837

Dear Chairman Berman,

On behalf of the Independent Voter Project (IVP), I am writing in opposition to Assembly Bill 837. AB 837 does not solve the constitutional issues with California’s current presidential primaries:

  • The California Constitution calls for an “open presidential primary.”
  • After California Democratic Party v. Jones invalidated the old blanket primary in 2000, the state reverted back to a semi-closed system.
  • AB 837 would leave the semi-closed primary structure in place and merely provide voters with information on how to participate in what is still an unconstitutional primary.

The bill also fails to address the issues that IVP brought to Secretary of State’s attention two years ago:

  • 24.51% of voters in California are registered as No Party Preference (NPP).
  • The semi-closed structure makes voting in primary elections cumbersome and confusing for NPP voters, as they can only vote in certain parties’ primaries and often register with the American Independent Party on accident, making them ineligible to vote in a party primary of their choice.
  • IVP supported ACR 145 (introduced 2/29/16) which would have addressed many of the above issues more constructively than AB 837, which provides only cosmetic education.

Every voter has a fundamental right to participate at all critical stages of the election process without being forced to join a political party. It is this same fundamental right of non-association that the Court recognized in Democratic Party v Jones.

IVP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to better informing voters about important public policy issues and encouraging nonpartisan voters to participate in the electoral process. IVP authored California’s nonpartisan “top-two” primary (Proposition 14) in 2010 and the City of San Diego’s successful 2016 top-two initiative, Measure K.

The Independent Voter Project strongly opposes AB 837.

Sincerely,

Dan Howle

Co-Chair, Independent Voter Project


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