You’ve probably received your Consolidated Presidential Primary Election (County Voter Information Guide) booklet from the Registrar of Voters – at least if you’re in Riverside County California.
What you may not have noticed, is that an interesting thing is happening. If you are a previously unaffiliated voter (meaning you had not selected a specific party), or what is known as a NPP (no party preference) voter, you might have to request a secondary ballot or elect a party to continue with a vote.
In an election cycle that perhaps sees a more divided electorate than ever for the top elected job in the nation, this is a bit of an awkward situation for voters who were probably very legitimately undecided.
By virtue of the moniker, NPP voters are by definition a group that would be influencing the election the greatest by percentage of decision power considering the group is so small. In California this might not mean that the group wields real power historically, as the Blue representation in the state has far exceeded the Red contingent for decades now. That doesn’t mean they cannot have an impact. This is particularly true in Congressional races.
But there is perhaps a problem that runs much deeper for voters who care. In a primary run-up that is more polarized than ever, the Democratic party has a group of establishment favorites; a group that favors a much more radical approach to progressive politics and a third group of moderates. Within those ranks, it even features a small contingency of wildcard candidates that seem to have done quite well on the national stage without any real institutional backing.
What does this mean? It means that there isn’t a real frontrunner at this point in time. For previously undecided voters in California, this is the most important election in many years. The time when the moderate candidates (those most likely to appeal to undecided party voters) need the electorate most, the electorate has to go out of its way to cast a primary vote.
It goes without saying too: in a state where the voting is overwhelmingly lopsided, it doesn’t incentivize voters who would otherwise vote for a moderate democrat to get out and vote.
The GOP favoring communities already know they won’t win. But now the areas that trend purple, might not be able to effectively utilize those 5million some odd votes to help impact the primary outcomes.
That means that promising candidates are going to have a doubly difficult time persuading the California voter to buoy them up in the primary. This is complicated by the fact that these 5.3million or so voters will not be able to vote for President in the election unless they request a special ballot, or they swap parties to a more conservative-leaning ballot which includes the GOP.
Yes, you can vote in the Democratic Primary as a NPP voter, but you’ll need to request that special ballot. And with little impetus to do so, as an already middle aligned voter (most likely) in a state that leans heavily left, it’s going to be even more work to do so. That means by default, establishment candidates and those with multi-year-long name recognition spells are bound to do better and have a better shot at the national election.
The Tulsi Gabbard’s and Pete Buttigieg’s and Andrew Yang’s of the World are likely to have their media play diluted by this interesting scenario playing out in California Absentee ballots. These 5 million voters have a real opportunity to challenge election outcomes in a Primary scenario, where historical numbers are low enough to be impacted by those 5 million. In 2016, only 5,173,338 people voted in total for the California Democratic Primary: with only 14,181,595 voting on election night for President. Obviously these 5.3 million votes could make a huge difference. Only about 400,000 votes separated the primary #1 and #2 contenders in 2016.
You should go to RegisterToVote.ca.gov before the February 18th, 2020 deadline to register; or contact your county office for a specific ballot or to declare for a different party option. Otherwise, you won’t be able to influence the Presidential election in 2020.
The March 3rd Primary is less than a month away.