ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Fifty-one years after the Voting Rights Act, illegitimacy follows the 2016 primaries like a tail. Roll purges by the NY Board of Elections, who stripped 126,000 Kings County and 60,000 Brooklyn voters of their voting rights; poll closures imposed by the AZ Maricopa County Recorder who opened 1 polling station for every 21,000 voters – made the headlines, but the story is repeating in state after state.
Voting is the heart of democracy. Why are the American people giving it up without a fight?
Blatantly anti-Democratic “Semi”, “Modified” and “Closed” primaries are announced months in advance, yet last-second legal filings, post-primary lawsuits and petitions remain the electorate’s failing defensive playbook. That “The People” decry an effort intended to silence them by tweeting about it would be touching if it weren’t stupid.
In 2012 in California, tens of thousands of post-incarceration activists organized and sued then-Secretary of State Debra Bowen for their right to vote, and won. If their intent was to reclaim voting rights in time to participate in the 2012 Open California Primary, then alas… their vote was restored just in time for suppression in the 2016 Modified Closed Primary.
Denial of voting rights is an old and effective method of domination. From ancient Rome to 17th century Europe, “Civil Death” was used to nullify voices of dissent. What was “killed” were an individual’s rights to marry, own property, protection under the law, and vote.
In election 2016, we are witnessing civil death by carpet bomb.
Are “The People” to blame for failing to fight for their right, or even to see their manipulation?
In the 2012 primary, only voters registered “No Party Preference (NPP)” received an “all-inclusive” ballot which listed every candidate. For 2016, the State has decreed:
- NPP ballots will list NO presidential candidates.
- NPP voters may, on the day, request one of the following “qualified” Party ballots: Democrat, American Independent, or Libertarian.
- NPP voters may complete a “vote by mail” application for one of the above.
- NPP voters may re-register to the party of their preferred candidate by May 23.
- Everyone registered with a party will get a ballot listing only the candidate(s) of that party.
On Feb. 22, Secretary of State Padilla issued a press release urging new voters, new citizens, those who had moved, and those who had changed their names to register before May 23, or risk being “sidelined.” He also released a registration report for the “six qualified political parties.” NPP registrations were listed at over 4 million people, or 25 percent of all registered voters. No mention was made of the fact that their ballots would omit any options for president.
Much has been made of the plight of several hundred thousand Californians registered as American Independent since the story broke on April 17. Their suppression is merely the smoke. What’s burning are the rights of 17 million voters: the State Constitution is on fire.
Gore Vidal said, “We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.” I give you California voters.
- 1996: Voters passed Prop 198, opening the Primary and creating a single ballot.
- 1997: The Democratic Party sued The People to overturn Prop 198. The People won.
- 1998: The People reject Prop 3, written by State Legislature, to close the Primary.
- 1998 – 2000: Various legal attacks mounted by the Legislature fail to overturn 198.
- June 2000: The California Democratic Party sues the People of California before the *United States Supreme Court. The court overturns Prop 198 on the argument that the Party’s 1st Amendment right (Free Speech) is violated by an Open Primary.
- 2000: Gov. Gray Davis and the State Senate unanimously pass SB28, killing 198.
- December 2000: This Supreme Court would write the “Gore Exception”, ordering that ballots/votes not be counted, and selecting George W. Bush for President.
But who IS the California Democratic Party?
The simple answer is that the Executive Branch of State Government — Gov. Jerry Brown and 10 other elected officers — are all executives of the California Democratic Party. It’s convenient, particularly in light of the governor’s ability to allocate funds “In the Name of The People” as he did April 29 with AB120, spending $16 million taxpayer dollars (without addressing the voting rights of those taxpayers) to fund the primary.
At least we know where some of the funding for this sham primary came from.
In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama famously refused to use the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PCEF), instead courting banks to finance his candidacy. Active since 1974, PCEF was created to ensure that merit, not money, would determine the outcome of elections. Funded by voluntary individual contributions, the last available figures state its value as $301,734,271. In 2014 President Obama dissolved the PCEF, disbursing hundreds of millions of accrued taxpayer dollars collected to protect the election process from fraud to other purpose(s).
What will become of America’s elections in absence of the PCEF remains to be seen, but it is clear that the class warfare of “individual small money” versus “big dark money” campaign financing is only beginning.
What can be done about any of this? When in doubt, go to the source. Not the LA Times or CNN. Not a reprehensible snarl of red tape/Senate bills/amendments all designed to miscarry justice and mortally wound democracy. Not the Secretary of State or anyone or anything which would obscure or undermine the foundational document of state law. Here is the site used by Officers of the California Court to access the document they refer to daily:
“The Legislature shall provide… an open presidential primary…”
Article 1 Section 3 Paragraph A states:
“The people have the right to instruct their representatives …”
When elected, state legislators swear to uphold and defend the constitution of both the nation and their state. The fact that national media have abdicated all responsibility to research and report is old news. That “The People” fail to unite to defend voting rights, a generation after the sacrifices which birthed The Voting Rights Act, is tragic.
California’s Primary is June 7. A non-partisan website has been put up for anyone interested in asking California’s elected employees what “open” means, or what in the hell they are doing to earn the public trust. One wonders if any will.