Bernie Sanders is again facing voter challenges in a primary. Six states go to the polls on June 7 — California, New Jersey, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Montana — and Bernie has a realistic chance to win all of these states but New Jersey, according to the polling listed at Election Results 2016, which compiles information from the Associated Press.
But Sanders may lose votes in California — where the race is tight — because many registered voters will not get a ballot with his name on it.
California has been a modified closed primary since 2001. Its rules, outlined by the California Secretary of State, are a bit tricky.
Here is what California voters who wish to vote for Bernie Sanders must do.
The most straightforward way is to register as a Democrat for this primary, and the deadline to do that is Monday, May 23. The reason to register as a Democrat is that the Democratic ballot will be the only one with the option to vote for the Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders.
If a ballot does not have on it the name “Bernie Sanders,” writing in his name will not result in a vote being counted for him.
Ballots for people registered as other parties, such as the Libertarian Party, will not have Bernie Sanders’ name on them, nor will they have the names of the other Democratic candidates. Therefore, people registered for other parties will not be able to vote for Bernie Sanders.
This is likely to be more harmful to Bernie Sanders than to Hillary Clinton, because Sanders is relying more than Clinton on people who are not registered Democrats for votes.
And there is more confusion.
One party in California is the “American Independent Party.” Voters registered under this party will not be able to vote for Bernie Sanders.
This party is not the Independent Party. It is a “far-right extremist group,” as reported by Alternet.
And there is still more confusion.
Voters who are registered as “No Party Preference (NPP),” which was previously known as “Decline-to-State (DTS),” will not have presidential candidates on their ballots at all. Therefore, they will not be able to vote for Bernie Sanders, unless they request a different ballot — the ballot of the Democratic Party. Here is the language from the California Secretary of State’s website on how to request that ballot.
“The NPP voter may ask their county elections office or poll worker, at their polling place, for a ballot [from one of three parties — the American Independent Party, the Democratic Party, or the Libertarian Party]… An NPP voter may not request more than one party’s ballot.”
If an NPP voter asks for a ballot for the American Independent Party, erroneously thinking that they will receive an Independent Party ballot with Bernie Sanders’ name on it, they will instead receive a ballot without Bernie Sanders listed. And since they are only able to request one ballot, they may not be allowed to get the Democratic Party ballot to vote for Bernie Sanders.
If an NPP voter is using a mail-in ballot, their request for a Democratic mail-in ballot must be received by May 31st.
If voters are already registered as Democrats, it is recommended that they verify their registration, as some people have reported that their registration was lost, their re-registration when they moved or changed their name was not recorded, or their registered party affiliation was changed.
Toni White, an attorney in Northern California, told this reporter that she was a registered voter, but after hearing about voter issues, she recently called the election office to confirm her registration. She was told that it could not be found.
“I don’t know how they could have lost it,” White said.
White is going to the election office before May 23 to personally ensure that she is registered to vote as a Democrat.
Bernie Sanders is trying to convince the undeclared superdelegates to choose him, and the superdelegates who have announced for Hillary to switch and support him. His main argument is to show that his massive crowds translate to votes that make him the strongest candidate for the general election.
Therefore, all California Bernie Sanders supporters who wish to vote for him using the easiest method should register as Democrats by Monday, May 23. The only other option to vote for Bernie Sanders in California is to be registered as No Party Preference and request a Democratic ballot — a request that must be received by May 31st for those who vote by mail.
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]