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California Voter Registration Form Has New Format for "Party" Choice

Published on July 24, 2008, by in General.

California has a new format for its voter registration form, for the “political party” choice. The form asks “Do you want to register with a political party?”. The “Yes” block is on the left; the “No” block is on the right.

Under the “Yes” block, the form lists the ballot-qualified parties in alphabetical order, with a checkbox next to the name of each. Of course there is also a blank line for someone who wants to register into a party that is not ballot-qualified.

The new form is designed to deal with the problem that some people wish to register “Independent”, but the legislature forbids the Secretary of State from listing that choice on the form. This has caused some people to register into the American Independent Party because they have thought that is the proper way to show oneself as an independent.

31 Responses

  1. Rob

    Wow, this is going to slowly kill the AIP and their ridiculous “largest third party” claim.

  2. NewFederalist

    I am not at all certain the change will make much difference. For most voters if it isn’t spelled out precisely what “independent” means, they will still look for the word and check the box.

  3. Trent Hill

    Rob,

    You are probably mostly right. It will stem the flow of unaffilliated voters into the AIP. If the voter rolls were to be purged f unaffilliated voters, though, the AIP would probably still possess somewhere north of 100,000 voters.

  4. Michael Morrison

    This is just more evidence that democracy poses major pitfalls.
    I remember when the Libertarian Party was new, and the “deputy registrars” would so often write “Libertine” or “Librarian.” Or even “Liberal.”
    And some would even say “You can’t register that way.”
    “Independent” does, in all seriousness, make its own problems. Sometimes what people are wanting to do is link with a separatist party, such as the “(something) Independence Party.”
    Or a statewide collection of independents, such as the “(something) Independents Party.”
    If I remember correctly, California at least used to offer the choice of “no party” or “unaffiliated” or some other terminology to that effect.
    I’ll bet Richard knows.

  5. Bob Marston

    Michael Morrison wrote: :If I remember correctly, California at least used to offer the choice of “no party” or “unaffiliated” or some other terminology to that effect.
    I’ll bet Richard knows.”

    It’s called “Decline to State”

    Their ranks numbered 200,000 in 1992. Now more than 3 Million people are registered “Decline to State” in California.

  6. Doremus Jessup

    Back around 2000, West Virginia used to have the selection “Independent” on their voter registration forms. But as mentioned by others, because of the existence of recognized political parties around the country with that specific word in their name, the “Independent” choice was summarily replaced with “No Party”.

    Thus, when I switched my allegiance from the GOP, I recieved a letter from my county clerk that “your new party is No Party” – got that framed and hanging on my home office wall.

    But, everyone here still calls no party (also called non partisan due to the same initials) independent. After 2000, the WVSOS officially converted all of the “Independent” voters to NP. But, those registered as “Other Party” who wrote “independent” on the line are still listed that way.

  7. Phil Sawyer

    It will make hardly any difference at all. The problem is not a real one; it is an artificial one.

  8. Philip: Huh? Lets talk in 2013……

    You and I can be on the same paragraph of the same page [like ‘barrowing ‘ NLP SPOs in 2004] and then I do not know if you and I are on the same planet……

  9. Charles Douglas

    California later passed a law against using the word “independent” in the name of a ballot-qualified political party…but the AIPes were already grandfathered in.

  10. I mostly agree with Rob @#1 and mostly disagree with NewFederalist @#2. My view is based on being a poll worker and encountering real live voters who registered AIP believing they were registering as independents. (Under California law, this prevents them from voting in the major party primaries, which independents can sometimes do depending on each party’s rules.)

    But the change will not decimate the AIP, since it still has bona fide adherents as well as the registrants we are talking about. The AIP is, however, busy decimating itself. It doesn’t need help from the government.

    The Secretary of State’s approach sounds like a very good one to me.

  11. Jim R

    A candidate can be independent, meaning that his candidacy is not backed by a political party.

    A member of a legislative body can be independent of the whip of any caucus.

    But what does it mean for a voter to be an independent? Voters are not whipped. They aren’t really even members of a party.

    Maybe they should use two classifications like Alaska does – non-partisan and undeclared, and treat those who are “independent” as affiliants with a not-yet organized party.

  12. Lordie, it does take Lady Justice nearly forever to get to the finish line some times!

  13. Michael Morrison

    First, thanks to Bob Marston for the reminder.
    Second, to Jim R, who said that voters “aren’t really even members of a party.”
    Sometimes they are. With the Libertarians, for example, people actually do join, even, in the case of the LP, signing a non-initiation-of-force pledge.
    In other parties, many people actually do become members, paying dues, etc.
    And registering as, say, Republican or Democrat or Libertarian does seem to me to make one a member.
    But your suggestion as to “non-partisan” and “undeclared” is a very good one.

  14. In 2004 AD the IAP had a 191% growth rate in 6 months in Clark County (Las Vegas) At the same time overall registration went up 11% in Clark.

    I guess that all those people registered as IAPs made a mistake and didn’t join the IAP because they meant to be non-partisan.

    20,000 idiots, I guess. Amazing that they all got together in a 6 month period and increased Clark County IAP from 10,000 to 30,000.

    So I guess the AIP will also die like the IAP will die when they figure out we are not independents but Independent Americans.

    HOW AMAZING that people can be so stupid.

    Or maybe it is amazing that people that hate the AIP and IAP just think they are that stupid.

  15. Richard

    I don’t think there is any California election law against using “Independent” as part of a party name. But any proposed independent party would be met with the objection that its name is too similar to the AIP. Ross Perot was told in 1995 that he could not call his party “Independence” in California for that reason. So he dropped “Independence” and “Reform” was his 2nd choice.

  16. Phil Sawyer

    Christopher Hansen Says:
    July 25th, 2008 at 2:48 pm
    … [snip] …
    Or maybe it is amazing that people that hate the AIP and IAP just think they are that stupid.

    Phil Sawyer adds:

    You are on to something, here, Christopher.

    While I admit that there are some people who are confused when they register to vote and think that they are being independent of all parties when they are signing on to the AIP, I do not think that the number is as large as many people make it out to be. Or if it is, so what? It simply is not germane to much of anything. How democratic is the Democratic Party? How republican is the Republican Party? Do many PFP registrants know that their party platform explicitly promotes democratic socialism? Do many Libertarian voters know much about anarchy and laissez-faire capitalism?

    The new California procedure will probably assist and facilitate the booming movement of registered voters as true independents. However, it will not make a figs worth of difference to the people who desire to be American Independents.

    As most of you probably know by now, I am currently with the Peace and Freedom Party of California. I do support the presence of the American Independent Party on our ballot in the Golden State, though – of course. It is providing a good home for many people with center-to-right political values. I would not mind the Republican Party losing its ballot status. As a matter of fact, that would be a cause for celebration and jubilation!

    Once again, I say that the whole thing is an artificial problem. We need to put our energy into solving real problems and, especially, bringing relief to the masses of suffering, poor, people in our country – and bringing our troops home to stay!

  17. Partee, partee, partee 20 January 2009, bye bye W!

    Partee, November 2016, California GOP off ballot!

  18. On July 23 Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star interviewed me, Markham Robinson, Chairman-elect of the American Independent Party and asked me the following question:

    “Do you think that there have been a number of people who have registered as American Independent Party voters when their intent was to be “Independent” from any party?”

    I answered as follows:

    1. You will always find someone confused about just about anything. (Rumfeld style truism)

    2. There have been no polls or studies to determine just how many people might fall into the category you describe. (Flat fact. I may do such a survey. I have the technology.)

    3. We in the American Independent Party don’t want anyone to be confused. In fact we want everyone to know what we stand for as a Party and we refer them particularly to our Statement of Purpose in the recent Presidential Primary Voters Guide and in the General Election Voters Guide to come out shortly. It is the same statement.

    4. We recognize a common interest with the Secretary of State and all local County Registrars of Voters in acquainting all voters with the political positions of all Parties so they may make a decision to affiliate with a party that best represents their own views and interests.

    5. We certainly believe that the recent increases in voters in the categories of Decline to State and American Independent at the expense of registration in other parties have been due to two causes: the frustrations and the aspirations of the voters. We believe that their frustrations with the performance of all the other parties account for their increased registration as Decline to State and we sincerely hope that the increased registration with the American Independent Party is an expression of their aspirations—which, by the way, all the other parties have signally failed to help them achieve!

    6. Moreover, we believe that if all voters were to be appropriately registered in a way that truly reflected their views and interests, there would certainly be a great reshuffling of registration categories, resulting in a great reduction in registration with the two currently major parties and a substantial net increase in our registration numbers, once they have a look at our recently adopted platform, soon to be released to the public!

    7. Finally, we call on all parties and the Secretary of State to join with us in a great public education campaign for appropriate registration to accomplish these objectives to improve the processes and results of democracy.

    Markham Robinson, Chariman-elect of the AIP, mark@masterplanner.com, 707-451-8985 Office Hours, 707-359-4884 Non-Office Hours

  19. Phil Sawyer

    That is a very comprehensive and excellent statement, Markham. However, I have to disagree with your contention that “all the other parties [other than AIP] have signally failed to help them [California voters] achieve [‘their aspirations’].” The Peace and Freedom Party is growing in awareness and popularity among the voters and we will see even more significant growth of the Party if it nominates Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez (for president and vice president) this coming August 2nd.

  20. John Crockford

    Except for a few counties, Peace and Freedom Party voter registration is down or flat. In the last four years, the Peace and Freedom Party statewide registration is down more than 14,000 (20%).

    See http://tinyurl.com/6dt3pu

    Whether a Nader/Gonzalez ticket will increase the number of voters registered with the Peace and Freedom Party remains to be seen. Peace and Freedom Party candidates regularly receive several times the votes compared to the number of registered voters.

  21. I hope that Sacramento Phil is at least half way right and I [Southern California P2004 Nader/ Camejo field commander, or words to that affect] agree with must that he says or hopes for. How ever, on the decades old Peace and Freedom Party: as a member, and even candidate, during a period of over a decade, I have never known the PFP that Phil talks about!

  22. Phil Sawyer

    One of the main reasons for the Peace and Freedom Party being on the ropes so much (as John Crockford pointed out above) is because it has been mostly under control of the Old Guard elements since around 1975. Most of these people have been very much against any sort of growth and reform ideas that would have helped the Party. Hopefully, that is about to change – starting with the State Nominating Convention over the first weekend of August.

    What Don Lake is talking about (also above), I am unclear. I thought that he and I had a fairly close assessment of the situation with PFP (with me being more hopeful, of course).

  23. John Crockford

    I often come across a lot of such ramblings placing blame for the condition of the Peace and Freedom Party on the ‘old guard’ but I must say that if it wasn’t for the ‘old guard’ there would not be a Peace and Freedom Party today. The relatively few active members of the Peace and Freedom Party are very busy just running the party – a major chore in itself – and were instrumental in regaining ballot status through a registration drive paid for primarily (if not exclusively) by private funds as well as overturning a recent attempt by a former Secretary of State to strip our ballot status from us.

    As a recent member of the Peace and Freedom Party (since 2004) who has been active within the party, I take issue with the erroneous belief that the ‘old guard’ is responsible for whatever problems or shortcomings exist within the Peace and Freedom Party. The ‘problem’ can be directly attributed to a lack of participation in the activities of the party.

  24. Johnny, as an investigator of the Peace and Freedom situation since 1986 and a member since 1992, I contend that you just do not know what you are talking about.

    It’s like when I hear stuff about the Reform Movement, the Gray Davis recall, the San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy recall and resignation and the Donna Frye ‘write in’ debacle which I know of FIRST HAND, is patently false!

    Most of my PFP info is at arm’s length [as the highly touted transparency IS NOT AVAILABLE to a 1990s grass roots activist and candidate like me].

    Fact: Dozens of telephone calls to Los Angeles County and or Northern California in as many years. Zero response, other than that one phone call concerning the saving of the party’s ballot access by LIBERTARIAN Richard Winger and other former or non PFPers.

    Fact: At least a dozen emailed and or postal mail ‘Partisan’ article submations. Not one reply! Not even when SASE or self addressed post cards were included.
    Not one [usually West Cost focused] article printed. Not One!

    Fact: The Partisan sure has a lot of out of state articles and little of home grown grass roots California issues, especially if you were not part of the ‘inner circle’! It got to the point that I started asking ‘rabbis’ like ctweber and other ‘swells’ to forward and inter cede.

    Zero. ——But lots of international and or East Coast stuff. Ya’d think that a one state national party would focus on California stuff via ‘boots on the ground’ local activists. Ya’d think!

    Facts: Dems lie! GOP lies [Nixon 1968]! And boy does the PFP lie! Time after time.

    The PFP can not even humbly thank Dems, Independents, Winger and others for the ballot access rescue! Richard Winger, a long term Libertarian, is still inferred as a Peace and Freedom activist!

    Fact: Mister Sawyer and I [both former PFP and Rfm Party of California members] have gone round and round bout ctweber, other top PFPers, and the top down policy of a ‘grass roots, transparent’ organization, and some of the truly REDICULAS candidates of years gone by for AT LEAST half a decade.

    For over half a decade he has deflected or denied my ‘old guard’ complaints. It takes time, but the truth outs. {Finally!]

    About the logic and honesty of ctweber……

  25. Philip Sawyer:

    [boy for a state employee and kkkollege gaduate you sure are confused upon a lot of items! How did your stand on corruption icon Democratic Governor Gray Davis go? How’d that work fer ya? How did your support of John Kerry, from a ‘life long third party activist’ in a state whom this pale clone of W was going to take all the electors by over one million votes, go? How’s did that work out for you!]

    I am truly sorry that you did not understand my post. May be the positive stance floored you?

    Better late than never. The California Greens posted identical sized photos of BOTH Nader/ Camejo AND forgettable, Democratic Party sellouts Cobb and LaMarche. Nader has lots of problems, some self initiated, but the national greens were unduly influenced by the DNC!

    The Golden State Greens ALMOST nominated Nader as a one party, one state protest of the Wisconsin debacle! It was close —-but no Nader’s Raiders cigar.

    The PFP also had internal food fight[s]. The Old Guard prevailed and nominated YET ANOTHER cop killing federal felon! [Even VP holder Janice Jordan was ‘sick to my stomach’ ] National greens and PFP: gut less or corrupt, you take your pick!

    Thanks for coming clean —-finally!

  26. Phil Sawyer

    For the record, Don, I work for the County of Sacramento – not the State of California (a common error, there). In addition, I am currently a member of the Peace and Freedom Party of California – not a “former” member as you wrote.

    As for the other stuff, my good friend, I am not even going to get into it. You have gone off the deep end and most people realize that. People are not going to take you seriously until you take your medicine!

    Philippe Sawyer, Member
    State and County Central Committees
    Peace and Freedom Party of California

  27. John Crockford

    Don,

    It’s unfortunate that my attempt to offer some personal insight has resulted in this kind of response. I was hoping for at least a moderate acknowledgment of the role of the current central committee in keeping the Peace and Freedom Party alive.

    There is no doubt in my mind that there needs to be many and profound changes in the way the Party is run. I don’t believe, however, that anyone is served by personal attacks and innuendo. You don’t know me and neither do you know my positions on the matters that you address.

    But to give you an example of how wrong your assumptions are – on the matter of the Partisan, the Fresno County Central Committee (of which I am a member) is boycotting the Partisan. We are neither accepting nor distributing the paper and will continue to boycott until there is a resolution to the issues that have been raised by us and others regarding content.

    There is a strong current of internal reform among many of the members of the State Central Committee and the recently founded chapters and members in the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties) are very active in attempts to institute reform measures. Attempts to institute reform are often fruitless without support from within so I invite you to rejoin the SCC and help.

    – John Crockford

  28. Phil Sawyer

    John,

    Many times have I asked Don to find his “way back home” to the Peace and Freedom Party. I have used the same method of reasoning that you have: reform comes about better from within, just as often as not (perhaps more often). I hope that your plea goes over better than mine have.

    Phil

  29. A woman gets raped by bikers near a ‘hog bar’ and after healing, Hells Angels Phil and John keep bugging her about going riding again! [And they plug their fingers in their ears when folks start complaining about their ride mates!]

  30. A good site, good short contents of the good work. Congratulations !,

  31. yep you are jack our maniac in my chat box and your mental here,

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