The California primary is right around the corner – June 7, to be precise – and this year, it matters, kind of, sort of, if you squint and look at it from just the right angle.
Democratic presidential candidate and totemic icon of wishful thinking Bernie Sanders has admitted he has little to no chance of actually becoming the nominee based on, you know, math. But he says he'll stay in the race in order to win as many delegates as possible in order to influence the party's platform at the convention.
So if you like Bernie and want to send a message to those fat cats in Washington, then yeah, you'll probably want to vote for him even though he's gonna lose.
Here's the problem: If you are registered to vote with "no party preference," as many young folk and Bernie supporters are, and if you are registered as a permanent absentee voter (meaning you get your ballot in the mail and send it in), you won't be seeing Bernie as an option. In fact, you won't be seeing any presidential candidates as an option when you receive your ballot on May 9.
California has an open Democratic primary, meaning anyone can vote in it – Republicans, nonpartisans, Green Partiers, anyone – but only if you show up at the polls and ask for a Democratic Party ballot. If you're registered to vote by mail, as more than 2 million "no party preference" voters are in California, you're probably not going to get a Democratic party ballot – unless you specifically ask for one. In writing. And mail it in, like at the post office.
You may have gotten a form like this a while back:
If by some miracle you haven't thrown it away, you can fill it out and drop it in the mail, and you'll get a "crossover ballot" in return. You can also print this form out and mail it. You'll need to get it in by May 31, so you better hurry!
If you don't, and if you're registered as "no party preference" and vote by mail, you won't be able to vote in the presidential primary.
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For nonpartisans who want to vote in the Republican primary, it's even trickier, since the Republican primary is closed. You'll have to re-register to vote as a Republican, which you can do online. The deadline to register to vote is May 23.
According to Paul Mitchell of Political Data, a bipartisan political strategy and research company, "Absentee voting is quickly becoming the preferred voting method of voters from all demographics. A massive two-thirds of the most recent voter surge signed up to get their ballots in the mail."
Mitchell says that a majority of the roughly 400,000 nonpartisan voters in L.A. County are registered to vote by mail in every election. Surveys suggest many of them are hoping to vote for Bernie in the June election. But only 25,000 Democratic Party "crossover ballots" have been sent out.
All that adds up to a lot of disappointed Bernie bros come May 9.