Some 472,000 Californians may have to sit out the state’s June 7 primary elections due to confusion between registering as an independent voter and a member of the American Independent Party.
Hollywood celebrities including Demi Moore, Emma Stone, and Patrick Schwarzenegger are among the many voters who erroneously registered as members of the the American Independent Party. Failing to change their political affiliation will lock them out of the Golden State’s closed primaries. California voters can still change their political party registration until May 23.
A study by the Los Angeles Times released Sunday shows 73 percent of the American Independent Party’s registered voters were seemingly unaware of their mistake.
Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, told the newspaper that language used on registration ballots is unclear.
“I think that it is confusing and somewhat misleading,” Alexander said.
“When they use the word ‘independent,’ I want to clarify it,” added Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County’s registrar of voters.
The Times noted that precise language on the state’s registration form has been a recurring problem, as it has been reworded three times in the last nine years.
In 2008, for example, the form read, “Do you want to register with a political party?” It was changed in 2010 to ask, “Do you want to disclose a party preference?”
“Those are not general use terms,” said Michael Vu, San Diego County’s registrar of voters.
The Times survey found that over 50 percent of individuals wanted to leave the American Independent Party once they were informed of their mistake, and “fewer than 4 percent could correctly identify their own registration as a member” of the party.
The news is likely to frustrate the remaining Republican and Democrat presidential hopefuls.
Billionaire Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are in fierce battle for the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the Republican Party nomination. Likewise, Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton is facing stiffer competition than initially expected from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In an election cycle where the margin of victory between candidates has at times been minuscule, their political sales pitch will be useless to hundreds of thousands of California voters.
Trump and Cruz are vying for 172 Republican delegates in California while Clinton and Sanders are attempting to secure 548 for their respective party.