About 350,000 California voters may have accidentally registered for the American Independent Party, thinking it was the designation for independent voters, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Both Republicans and Democrats are losing membership registration to independent voters, despite rising population and the state’s comparatively high 70.2 percent of eligible Californians registered to vote.
Rising dissatisfaction with the two major parties probably explains why out of 24,440,416 eligible voters, only 7,317,581, or 29.9 percent, actually cared enough to vote in the 2014 national election.
About 24 percent of California voters have now declared themselves “Decline to State” voters — up almost 3 percent, or half a million voters, over the same time four years ago. But it is the ultraconservative American Independent Party that holds the crown as the “The Fastest Growing Political Party in California” — thanks to a common registration mistake.
The roots of the American Independent Party date back to 1967 and the last campaign by segregationist George Wallace’s for President. Wallace is long gone and the party disavows segregation. It is now about God and no taxes.
Chairman of the American Independent Party Markham Robinson summed up the party’s bedrock philosophy for the Los Angeles Times: “What we are now is a conservative, constitutionalist party.”
With about 500,000 members, or 3 percent of the state’s 17.2 million currently registered voters, AIP trails the Democrats 43 percent and the Republicans 28 percent, but it is ahead of every other third party.
Its platform is a list of hard-right policy priorities — and yet the Times found such left-leaning Hollywood celebrities as Sugar Ray Leonard, Demi Moore, Kaley Cuoco and Emma Stone to be registered members.
In a random survey by the Times of 500 AIP registered members regarding their opinion on the 2014 party platform, the paper found that 73 percent said they would not have checked the AIP box if they knew it was actually a party with such hard-right views. They thought they were registering as “independent.”
California’s unique top-two primary system supposedly favors independents, who are able to vote for the candidate of any party. But the California Presidential primary is restricted on the Republican primary to party members only. The Democrats will specifically allow those registered as “Decline to State” to cast a primary ballot.
Accidental AIP members have until May 23 to re-register with the party of their choice, or as “Decline to State.”