Independent California Voters Confused By Voter Registration Form
Tens of thousands of California voters who mistakenly registered to vote in affiliation with the American Independent Party rather than as “independent” voters may be prevented from voting in California’s June 7 primary. California voters register with “no party preference” as an independent voter by checking a box on the voter registration form stating “No, I don’t want to register with a political party”. Alternatively, voters can choose from a list of parties, beginning with the American Independent Party, a conservative organization that today exists as a registered political party only in California. Voters expressed confusion over which box to check, many mixing up registering for the American Independent Party with registering as an independent due to checking the only box next to a party with the word “independent” in its name. A bipartisan poll found that up to 74% of American Independent Party members in California may have checked its box by mistake, meaning to register as an “independent” or “no party preference” voter.
In California’s presidential primary on June 7, Democrats will allow voters who have “no party preference” to participate in their primary, while Republicans and the American Independent Party will have closed primaries. This means that voters who mistakenly registered with the American Independent Party can only vote for the party’s candidates in the primary.
Regarding review of the voter registration form’s language, Secretary of State Alex Padilla stated that California “cannot assume a voter was misinformed in checking that box”. Some California lawmakers support review and/or amendment of the form’s language for clarity. California can’t change a party’s name either, said Padilla: “My office isn't in the business of censoring or amending a political party's name”, and “[i]t’s a very imperfect process.”
Voters mistakenly registered with the American Independent Party have included Demi Moore, Kaley Cuoco, Emma Stone, and Sugar Ray Leonard. California voters can change their party registration until May 23. 
— By Julia Damron, Esq., Barnes Law
Julia Damron is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in California.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.
 Sources used to prepare this post include:
- Myers, John, et al., “Are you an independent voter? You aren't if you checked this box”, April 17, 2016, L.A. Times, http://static.latimes.com/american-independent-party-california-voters/.
- Myers, John, “Would-be independents joining the American Independent Party could blame California's voter registration card”, April 19, 2016, L.A. Times, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-american-independent-party-california-voter-registration-card-20160419-story.html.
- Skelton, George, “California's voter registration form looks like it was written by a chimpanzee. Fix it”, April 21, 2016, L.A. Times Capitol Journal, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-american-independent-party-20160421-story.html.
- Morrison, Pat, “Want to register as an independent? Don't get confused by the AIP”, April 3, 2014, L.A. Times Opinion, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-voter-registration-california-american-independent-party-20140403-story.html.