@AIPrl_Fooled

No gotcha post this April Fools' Day.  Instead I'll give a shout out to the folks from www.aiprlfooled.com (@AIPrl_Fooled for you Twitter people) for their efforts to educate voters on one of the peculiarities of California politics.

I remember working at the Secretary of State's office when we had closed primaries and voters who considered themselves "Independent" would call very confused about the candidates who were on their ballot.  They had no idea that when they registered themselves as members of the "American Independent Party" (AIP) they were not indicating their independence but rather were signing up for the party of George Wallace.

I also remember that among long-time staff as Secretary of State it was an open secret the people who approved the designation "Independent" decades prior considered it a mistake, one they wish they could do over.  They knew it confused more voters than it benefited. 

Now I am not opposed to the existence of the AIP.  Indeed when I worked on elections policy for the Assembly Democratic Caucus I would talk with representatives of the party and found them to be fair and honest people.  They were passionate and hardworking on behalf of their point of view.  But they did have a point of view.  They were partisans, not independents. 

Now I happen to like partisans.  I think the weakness of political parties in America is one of the systemic causes of problems in our electoral system.  But I also think that members of the AIP have no more claim over the work "Independent" than I do. 

It would be easy to write this off as merely a matter of semantics.  But this particular half-century-old bureaucratic decision has real world impacts even today.  Many of California's political parties are struggling to maintain their ballot designation due to qualification standards that are more difficult to meet under the Top Two primary process.  But not the AIP, largely because they can rely on the many registered voters who sign up with the party having no idea why.  This gives them an unfair strategic advantage relative to other smaller parties.

And as I alluded to at the beginning, voters who register with AIP lose out on their right to participate in the Presidential primaries of those parties that let voters registered with No Party Preference vote in their elections. 

So if you consider yourself an Independent voter, do yourself a favor and use this April Fools' Day to check your registration