As Bernie Sanders supporters fear their candidate will miss out on crucial votes from independent and crossover voters in California’s June primary, civil rights lawyers filed suit Friday seeking more time for those voters to request a Democratic presidential ballot. The lawyers sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of an organization trying to boost turnout for Sanders in his bid against Hillary Clinton. Additional plaintiffs include two individual voters and the American Independent Party, a conservative organization on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Sanders. In the suit against Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Alameda County and San Francisco election officials, the plaintiffs contend that nonpartisan voters have received inconsistent and confusing instructions on how to vote in the June 7 presidential primary. They say thousands of voters will be disenfranchised.
The issue pertains to no-party-preference voters who participate by mail and began receiving their June primary ballots earlier this month. California has a semi-open presidential primary system in which the Democratic, American Independent and Libertarian parties are allowing nonpartisan voters to participate in their presidential nominating contests this year.
To do so, those voters must request a presidential ballot. If they vote by mail, elections officials must receive the requests by May 31. Those voters also can vote at their polling place or county election office up until June 7. Once they mail a ballot without presidential candidates, they can no longer vote in the presidential contests.