Judge to Decide if California's Presidential Primary Violates Voting Rights of 5.6 Million Independent Voters

Independent Voter Project

The Independent Voter Project (IVP), author of California’s nonpartisan statewide primary system, is one of 7 plaintiffs that sued the California Secretary of State for 6 distinct violations of state and federal voting rights laws earlier this year.

In October, IVP filed a motion for preliminary injunction, focused on the voting rights of California’s 5.6 million “no party preference” voters and a federal claim that the semi-closed primary violates the voters’ first amendment right of non-association by forcing them to associate with a political party as a condition of voting in the primary election.

Notably, this is the same right successfully asserted by the political parties in Democratic Party v. Jones, a case decided in 2000 that invalidated California’s old “open blanket” primary.

In its defense, the California’s Secretary of State argues that “California’s significant interest in preserving political parties, ensuring primary elections that accurately reflect the voting interest in preserving political parties, and guarding against party raiding justifies any minimal burden [against voters] that may exist.”

IVP has proposed a simple remedy that would protect the party interests and the voting rights of California’s 5.6 million no party preference voters. Dan Howle, Chairman of IVP said, “Instead of giving no party preference voters a blank ballot for president, simply list all the candidates on their ballot. The state would tally and publish the no party preference results and let the parties decide whether or not to consider them in the selection of their nominees. Give voters a chance to express their preference.”

Additional background information and case briefs can be found here: http://bit.ly/ivplawsuit

IVP’s solution has been supported by a large coalition of reform organizations, including the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, Open Primaries, FairVote, Represent.us, Unite America, Serve America Movement, Alliance San Diego, California Forward, and California’s Common Sense Party.

The motion for preliminary injunction will be heard on Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Bernardino.


The Independent Voter Project (IVP) is a 501(c)(4) organization that seeks to re-engage nonpartisan voters and promote nonpartisan election reform through initiatives, litigation, and voter education. IVP is best known for authoring California's successful nonpartisan primary for non-presidential elections.

Source: Independent Voter Project