The card millions of Californians use to register to vote is receiving its first makeover in more than a decade, inspired in part by confusion over how to become an “independent” unaffiliated voter — a problem highlighted by a Los Angeles Times investigation in 2016. “It’s an issue that’s been lingering for years,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “But that was the first time it was really in the spotlight.” The Times found a substantial number of Californians who registered with the American Independent Party wrongly believed they weren’t part of any political party — an error that later kept some from casting ballots in the state’s 2016 presidential primary. “A combination of issues prompted us to see if there was a better way,” Padilla said.
The postage-paid voter registration card was last revised in 2008. The forms are widely distributed in state and local government offices and through volunteer voter registration drives. Californians have until May 21 to register for the June 5 statewide primary.
Perhaps the most noticeable change is the new card’s instruction, in a larger font size, on political parties. For those who want to remain unaffiliated, the card now gives them a box to check next to a new selection, “No Party/None.”
That might help voters see the distinction missed by some in earlier versions between being an “independent” voter and selecting the American Independent Party — a conservative political group founded in 1968 to boost the presidential campaign of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace. The party joined Republicans in nominating Donald Trump in 2016.