Almost 600,000 previously disenfranchised independent voters in California may have their votes counted, after all.
Bernie Sanders at University of California, Davis
By SVeach94 - Photo taken at rally, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49209074
By Liam Miller
Jun 23, 2016
In a display of fairness and good sense (and in marked contrast to controversial voting practices in several other states), voting officials in Los Angeles have decided to count over 66,000 votes which were slated to be discarded.
The Democratic Primary ballots were all cast by “No Party Preference” (NPP) voters, California’s version of “Independent”. According to California’s arcane voting laws, NPP voters could only vote in the Democratic primary via a “No Party Preference/Democratic Crossover Ballot”, which they had to request specifically – if ambiguously phrased, poll workers were not instructed to be particularly helpful. A regular Democratic ballot cast by an NPP voter was to be considered invalid. Voting officials determined that, while the prescribed procedure may not have been followed, the ballots still expressed clear “voter intent” and should be counted.
If implemented statewide, this could rescue some 580,000 such ballots - expressing clear voter intent, but discarded under a technicality - from going uncounted.
Per the California Secretary of State, there also remain a further 680,000 votes to be counted, for a total of about 1.25 million votes.
In a June 2nd Field Poll, NPP voters preferred Sanders to Clinton by a 2:1 margin, with 19% undecided.
Clinton’s statewide lead over Sanders is just over 450,000 votes. While Sanders’ advantage with all uncounted ballots would need to be considerable for him to eke out a victory (around 68%), given the topsy-turvy nature of the campaign and his strong standing with Independent voters, it is well within the realm of possibility.
Sanders had said that a win in California would make the case for him receiving the nomination, despite Clinton's higher pledged delegate total. Clinton and Sanders both fell short of the 2,383 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination before the Democratic Convention, July 25th - 28th. According to Democratic Party rules, this means the convention will be "contested". This also means that any and all current assertions about who is the nominee - made by the media, your friends online, or anyone else - are "incorrect".
California’s primary will not be finalized until July 8th, which would allows two weeks for all remaining ballots to be counted. A post in the Sanders for President subthread on Reddit has asked for California Sanders supporters to contact their California County Elections person to ask that ballots be counted on the basis of voter intent.
Update: the estimate of 580,000 proved to be high; according to Nomi Abadi (who was overseeing ballot counting), the actual total wound up being about 200,000. -LM
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