Ninth Circuit Sets Hearing Date on California Case Challenging Discriminatory Law on Party Labels

The Ninth Circuit will hear Chamness v Bowen on February 13, Wednesday, in its courthouse on the western edge of Pasadena. This is the case that challenges California law that permits some members of political parties to list their party affiliation on the ballot, whereas certain other members of political parties are not permitted to list their party affiliation. Also, the law does not permit independent candidates to have the ballot label “independent” on the ballot. Instead they must use the label “no party preference”. However, California still permits independent presidential candidates to be listed on the ballot as “independent.”

A survey of California’s independent candidates for Congress and state legislature, conducted in June 2012, found that more than two-thirds of those candidates wished they could have “independent” on the ballot. The only independent candidates who said they didn’t want “independent” were a few who worried that “independent” would be confused with “American Independent.” Also, a few of the independent candidates could never be reached.

Anyone who is in southern California on February 13, 2013, should consider attending this hearing. The Court has set aside 40 minutes for the hearing. The Courthouse, at 125 South Grand Avenue, Pasadena, is one of the nation’s most beautiful courthouses. It was once a luxury hotel and is set in extensive gardens. The building is entirely for the use of the Ninth Circuit when it hears cases in southern California, and is not a courthouse for any other court.


Ninth Circuit Sets Hearing Date on California Case Challenging Discriminatory Law on Party Labels — 10 Comments

  1. By listing the status as “INDEPENDENT” when the candidate is not associated with the “American Independent Party of California” would make electors
    think the candidate was associated with the “American
    Independent Party” when they were not. The word “independent” is part of the name American Independent Party. They would just be violating the
    Election Code and take property, viz., a part of the
    parties name, without authorization.

    Richard Winger, how would the members of the “Peace & Freedom” parties like it if someone placed by his name “Freedom Party” and they were not with the P&F.

    In California political parties have the right to protect their names or parts thereof. I am convinced
    that the 9th Circuit wiil not approve of a taking of its name or a part thereof.

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg, Vice Chairman, American Independent Party of California

  2. #2, why don’t you complain about the fact that the Secretary of State let the Americans Elect Party qualify in California? Aren’t you worried about confusion between American Independent and Americans Elect? I don’t remember your ever saying anything about that.

    And you never say anything about the fact that independent candidates have used the label “independent” starting in 1891, when California first started using government-printed ballots. The use of the word “independent” predated the founding of the American Independent Party by 76 years. Using the logic you expressed, one would think Frank Jordan, California’s Secretary of State in 1967, would have told George Wallace that he would not be permitted to qualify a party with the name “American Independent.”

  3. How many of the usual suspect parties had *socialist* in them on the same ballots and somehow got some votes ???

    ??? American party in the 1840s ???

    Any *DOI* parties in 1776-1789 ???

    Who printed the first ballots in the Brit colonies after 1607 – VA — with or without robot party hack labels ???

  4. Using the logic you expressed, one would think Frank Jordan, California’s Secretary of State in 1967, would have told George Wallace that he would not be permitted to qualify a party with the name “American Independent.”

    That’s probably what he should have done.

  5. Libertarian Party v Eu determined that “Independent” meant that the nomination (by petition) was made independently of the political parties. Had the decision been rendered before the election, the Libertarian candidates would have been labeled as “Independent” on the ballot.

    If Michael Chamness had a competent and/or honest lawyer, he would have argued that Chamness should have been placed on the ballot as “Prefers Coffee Party”.

    Immediately prior to the election where Proposition 14, the Secretary of State sent a memo to county election officials that voters who were affiliated with a non-qualified party could vote in the Republican or Democratic Party, even though he was not a Decline To State voter.

    SB 6 specifically provided that Decline To State voters would be reclassified as No Party Preference voters, and all other voters would have their Party Affiliation converted to Party Preference. Chamness who by that time had affiliated with the Coffee Party would have had that changed to Prefers Coffee Party.

    SB 6 specified that when a voter became a candidate for a voter-nominated office, that their party preference expressed on the affidavit of voter registration would become their party preference as a candidate.

    Michael Chamness should have appeared on the ballot as Prefers Coffee Party.

  6. Jim Riley,

    I was not aware there was also a backdoor line of communication between Bowen and the CEO that bypassed
    the official line of communications. Please post
    where SOS Bowen gave the okay to let non qualified party
    electors vote in the two major party tickets?

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg, Vice Chairman, American
    Independent Party of California.

  7. CC/ROV 10086 March 9, 2010.

    This was prior to the June 2010 primary (at which Proposition 14 was approved). Under Elections Code 13102, when a qualified party opens its primary to DTS voters, they also opened it to voters registered with parties not participating in the primary. Only the Republicans and Democrats did so at the June 2010 election.

    At the June 2012 presidential primary, only the American Independent and Democratic parties opened their primary. In 2011, DTS voters were converted to NPP voters. So following the logic of CC/ROV 10086, which is entirely consistent with Elections Code 13102, voters registered with a preference for the Reform, Natural Law Party, Constitution, Justice, We Like Women, Coffee party, etc. ad infinitum could request either the American Independent or Democratic ballots, or they would be given the non-partisan ballot.

    If you follow the letter of 13102, voters who preferred Americans Elect could also request a Democratic or American Independent ballot because the AEP had decided not to participate in the June 2012 presidential primary.

    Elections Code 13102 now only applies to the presidential primary, since it is the only remaining partisan office.

    The Secretary of State also distributed guidelines for poll worker training that also gave the same interpretation. So when Dean Logan (or other CEO) are training poll workers they should have made sure that poll workers knew that when someone who preferred the Coffee Party voted, they could request a Democratic or AIP ballot (in June 2012).

    The Secretary of State knows (or should know) that voters who have a party preference are different from No Party Preference voters. Just because the SOS does not tabulate the number of voters who prefer the Natural Law or Coffee parties, and does tabulate the number of voters who prefer the Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian, American Independent, and Peace&Freedom parties does not mean that the voters who prefer a non-qualified party have No Party Preference. If they were, the aggregate would not be reported as Others.

    SB 6 said that when a candidate sought a voter-nominated office, their party preference as a candidate was what they had indicated on their affidavit of voter registration. Voters sign this to certify that the information is truthful and correct, subject to possible perjury prosecution. When Michael Chamness signed his affidavit of voter registration, he was certifying not only his name, age, address, citizenship status, were truthful and correct, but that his party preference for the Coffee Party was truthful and correct. If someone believes that Chamness’s party preference was not truthful, he might be subject to perjury prosecution, depending on his motivation for being non-truthful.

    But as far as I know, Chamness was honest, even though misguided in his choice of legal representation. It is really bizarre that Chamness sought and seeks to have “Independent” next to his name, when he said he prefers the Coffee Party. If he is embarrassed to admit his preference for the Coffee Party, he could leave it blank, just as if someone who doesn’t want “Barista” next to their name may have that omitted.

  8. Jim Riley,

    Thank you for the information.

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg, Vice Chairman, American Independent Party of California.

    P.S., I note that Virgil Goode got over 500 write-in
    votes in California which show that he had support greater than the registration in the Constitution Party
    of California.

    It would be interesting to note the registration of the
    Coffee Party in California, because some electors could
    be confussed between these CP’s, viz., both Constitution
    and Coffee begins with the letter “C”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *