California Voter Registration Form

A California voter registration form. (Los Angeles Times)

George Skelton

George Skelton
Capitol Journal
April 20, 2016

About 400,000 Californians who might be planning to vote in the state’s pivotal Democratic presidential primary June 7 could be in for a shock.

They’ll be told, “Sorry, your vote’s no good here.”

They’re getting rooked, although they primarily rooked themselves.

The state also is to blame, however. It sat back, not giving a hoot, and allowed this to happen. It should have been protecting the voters.

These are the Californians who carelessly signed up with the late George Wallace’s obsolete, inconsequential, far-right American Independent Party, apparently believing they were registering as an independent — small “i” — nonpartisan voter.

They’ll find that the only so-called presidential candidates they can vote for in the primary are some obscure AIP members who probably couldn’t be elected local crossing guard captain.

There’ll be no Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders on their ballot. No Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich.

To vote for a Democrat, you must be registered as either a Democrat or “no party preference.”

Sanders is probably losing some California support because many self-described independents who are inadvertent AIP members won’t be allowed to vote for him. Sanders has been cleaning up with nonpartisans all over the country where they’ve been permitted to vote. They weren’t Tuesday in New York, and the Vermont senator was trounced.

A recent California Field poll found that likely voters registered as nonpartisans supported Sanders over Clinton by roughly 5 to 4. That’s the opposite of registered Democrats. Counting both groups, Clinton led by 6 percentage points.

To vote in the GOP primary, you’ve got to be a registered Republican. My guess is that most right-leaning, independent-thinking AIP members would side with Trump.

Fortunately, it’s not too late for these Californians to correct their mistake. They’ve got until May 23 to re-register as a Democrat, a Republican or with no party at all.

To read expanded column, click here.