Why millions of Californians may not get to vote in the Democratic primary

Tens of thousands of people were registered to vote incorrectly by the California DMV

Over the weekend, my buddy Cole and I were out knocking on doors for Bernie Sanders. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk to fellow San Franciscans about what’s going on with the Democratic primaries, see what their concerns are, and get the word out about why Bernie is the best candidate not just to beat Donald Trump, but to put the U.S. on a course that benefits all Americans.

While at the orientation meeting before our canvassing I was surprised to learn that there’s a good chance millions of voters won’t get to cast their ballot in the March 3 Democratic primary — and they don’t even know it. Part of this is because tens of thousands of people were registered to vote incorrectly by the California DMV. This includes people who were assigned the wrong political party preference all together. Even Cole, who is politically engaged and knocked on doors in 2016, opened his vote by mail ballot to find he was registered as a Green Party member for some reason. He has no idea how it happened.

The far larger reason why so many Californians may not get to vote in the Democratic primary is that two-thirds of Californians vote by mail, and if they aren’t registered as Democrats, they won’t receive a ballot with the Democratic candidates on it. Since nearly 30 percent of all voters in California are registered as Independents or “No Party Preference” (make sure you’re not accidentally registered to the far-right American Independent Party), this is a really big deal.

In California, the Democratic party is having a semi-closed primary, which means people with No Party Preference can vote in it, but (and this is a huge but), if you’re not registered as a Democrat you have to get a “crossover ballot.” The whole thing is a real pain in the ass.

If you’re registered as “No Party Preference,” you should’ve received a postcard in the mail about this earlier this year, letting you know to ask for a crossover ballot, but we’re all busy and things get lost in the shuffle. So, if you want to make sure you get one, and still vote by mail, you need to call, email, or fax your County Elections Office a request by Feb. 25. Otherwise, your vote by mail ballot won’t give you the option to vote in the Democratic primary.

The other option is to show up with your ballot on election day and exchange it for a crossover ballot right then.

The easiest way to avoid all this hassle is to go online and re-register to vote as a Democrat by Feb. 18, so you can be sure you get the proper ballot sent to you. Then you can always register again after the primary to whatever party you want.

Is this an absolute fiasco or what?

So let’s try this: Go and get your vote by mail ballot from the table it’s been sitting on for the past six days. I’ll wait.

OK, got it? Open it up and see if you have the option to vote in the Democratic primary. Do you see Bernie Sanders on there? How about Elizabeth Warren? If so, you’re all good. If not, you need to either re-register online as a Democrat by Feb. 18, contact the County Elections Office and ask for a crossover ballot by Feb. 25, or ask for your crossover ballot when you vote in person.

A Quick Note on Bernie Sanders

If you want to vote for whomever has the best chance of beating Trump then you must support Bernie Sanders. Let me quickly explain:

To win the presidency, all the Democrats really have to do is get a huge voter turnout in five swing states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin. We already know where most of the other states are going fall, at least the ones with enough voters to matter.

It’s common knowledge that people over 30 vote way more than people under 30. So, to get that huge voter turnout it’s imperative that we get millennials (who now outnumber baby boomers), out to the polls. Therefore, to win, we need to choose the candidate who fires up the most young people. Can you name a candidate who excites young people more than Bernie Sanders? The biggest reason Trump won is because 100 million people weren’t excited to vote for Hillary Clinton, so they didn’t vote at all.

Let’s not repeat that mistake again.

Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His column appears every other Thursday. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.

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