Thousands of Independent-Minded California Voters Mistakenly Registered with Conservative Party Due to Name Confusion

Monday, April 18, 2016
Original American Independent Party membership card

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A survey has found that tens of thousands of voters, including Demi Moore and other celebrities, have mistakenly registered as members of a conservative minor political party in California in a mix-up over its name, a newspaper reported Sunday.


The Los Angeles Times said that a telephone survey of 500 members of the American Independent Party found nearly 3 of 4 people did not realize they had enrolled in a political party that opposes abortion rights and same sex marriage and calls for building a fence along the U.S. border.


The newspaper said voters were confused by the use of the word "independent" in the party's name. In California, voters who do not want to register with any party must check a box on a registration form for "no party preference."


"I just blew it," Deborah Silva, 64, of Point Arena in Mendocino County, told the Times. "There were a number of choices. I just checked the box that said 'independent.'"


Of people surveyed in the Times poll, fewer than 4 percent could correctly identify their own registration as a member of the American Independent Party.


Moore was among Hollywood celebrities with known Democratic leanings listed as members. She has contributed money to and campaigned for President Barack Obama. Her registration as an AIP member is wrong, a representative said.


"Demi Moore is not, nor has ever been, a member of the American Independent Party," the representative told the Times.


When Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, registered to vote in 2013, he selected the American Independent Party. A family spokesman said Schwarzenegger, 22, plans to change his registration.


According to the Secretary of State's Office, the party has about 472,000 members, or 2.7 percent of the statewide total.


The Times reported that the mistaken registration could prevent people from casting votes in the June 7 presidential primary, which is considered California's most competitive in recent years. Voters affiliated with the American Independent Party will only be allowed to vote for candidates on the party's ballot, the Times reported. The Republicans will have a closed primary, while the Democrats will allow unaffiliated voters to participate.


The deadline to register or change voter registration status for the June 7 primary is May 23.


The American Independent Party's roots date to 1967 when George Wallace, a segregationist, launched his second run for the White House. Wallace, who had run as a Democrat in 1964, helped create the party and ran on its ticket. Today, that party exists only in California.


"We're not segregationist anymore," said Markham Robinson, who serves as chairman of the American Independent Party's executive committee. "What we are now is a conservative, constitutionalist party."


Some voters who mistakenly registered with the party said they found the state's official registration materials confusing.


The survey of members of the American Independent Party was conducted by telephone Feb. 9-11. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.


To Learn More:

            Poll of American Independent Party Members in California (Los Angeles Times)

Are Independent California Voters Accidentally Registering in the Party of George Wallace? (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)


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