There’s a lot of talk about how Obama’s campaign in California is seeking out support from those who are registered as “decline-to-state” voters. These are voters who have not registered with any political party, instead have registered as not affiliated with a political party. Currently, nearly 20% of California’s voters are registered as “decline-to-state”!
While there’s a long background story on this, the short version of the story is that “decline-to-state” voters can obtain one of three ballots for the February 5th primary: a nonpartisan ballot (containing names of candidates running for nonpartisan offices and ballot measures), the Democratic ballot, or the American Independent ballot. “Decline-to-state” voters will not be able to get a Republican ballot.
Procedurally, the official state voter information guide seems clear about what “decline-to-state” voters must do to get anything other than the nonpartisan ballot (page 7):
If you are not registered with a political party, upon request you can vote a ballot of any political party that has notified the Secretary of State that it will permit decline-to-state registered voters to help nominate their candidates. The following political parties are allowing voters who are not registered with a political party to request and vote their party’s ballot at the February 5, 2008, Presidential Primary Election:
American Independent Party
You may NOT request more than one party’s ballot. If you do not request a specific ballot, you will be given a nonpartisan ballot containing only the names of candidates for nonpartisan offices and the measures to be voted upon at the February 5, 2008, Presidential Primary Election.
It seems that if a “decline-to-state” voter wants a ballot other than the nonpartisan one, they will need to specifically request either the Democratic or American Independent party ballot.
So, look out for the following issues on February 5th in California:
- “Decline-to-state” voters who do not know they can get a Democratic or American Independent party ballot.
- “Decline-to-state” voters who are not informed in their polling place that they can obtain a Democratic or American
Independent party ballot.
- “Decline-to-state” voters who think they can get the Republican party ballot, and who get upset in the polling place.
One interesting wrinkle to watch out for on Election Day!