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OPINION: Voter Suppression California Style

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OPINION: Voter Suppression California Style

By Ray Morgan

News-time has been voiced about voter suppression tactics in other states; the conniving of political hacks quietly and softly edging people out of their right to vote. We saw this in Florida in 2000, when it was discovered thousands had been purged from the voter rolls for specious reasons, or the congressional hearings that belied the integrity of software engineers who were directed to program code to automatically and invisibly change election results by just enough points to change the result, but not enough to be noticed, and more recently in Arizona with the reduction of voting places and their and New York’s denial of independent voters’ ballots for unclear reasons after hours of wait at polling place.

I was concerned, so I visited the Sonoma County registrar’s office to assure myself that things wouldn’t go that way here. Sonoma County has honest government workers whose intentions would demonstrate how it could be done properly. “This is California, that’s not the way we do things,” was exactly what the official told me.

I had to register by May 23, to be eligible for the June primary.

There are three parties that allow ‘independent’ (non-partisan) voters to cast ballots in their primary: Democrat, Libertarian, and the American Independent Party. It’s made clear in the news and the voter information pamphlet that “ALL voters get a ballot with voter nominated and nonpartisan candidates in the primary election.” This has been echoed and a warning went out that the original forms online lead about 500,000 people to check ‘Independent’, which was actually the American Independent Party, instead of nonpartisan. This simple error would keep them from voting for the democratic candidate if they so chose.

The easy online registration allowed me to change my party affiliation to non-partisan, which I did. I was lead to believe this was all I had to do. Then came the Arizona and New York scandals that disenfranchised voters for that very reason and I went back online and changed it again to Democrat.

I received my mail-in ballot, but they erred and sent me two ballots; one for nonpartisan status and one for the Democratic Party. I opened them both and discovered how nonpartisan voters/independents would be kept out of the process.

The nonpartisan ballots were ‘B’ & ‘C’. There was no presidential candidate ballot ‘A’ included. I checked with some friends and this wasn’t a single clerical mistake, none of them had the ‘A’ ballot for presidential candidates.

It would be simple for the registrar to list all the parties who allowed open voting on one ballot with simple instruction to “Vote for One”, as on the senatorial ballot, but there is no presidential ballot at all.

I called, and they said: they sent out a card to be filled out and returned, defeats the non-declared status, or pop on down to the registrar’s office and get a ballot, why register nonpartisan, or they could go to their poll place and ask for a ballot on election day, defeats the mail in idea. These extra steps are called voter suppression. This makes it harder to vote. Americans now expect chicanery in government so much so that a majority have thrown up their hands and walked away from the whole process.

Scores of people registered nonpartisan, using the mail-in ballot, have been duped by this blatant misreading of the regulations to subvert the intent of the law for political reasons and will be cut out of the process by simply making it more difficult to exercise their right to vote.