Something is rotten in the state of
The California-based Courage Campaign
is making noises
about voter disenfranchisement in the Los Angeles area. For the 776,774
"Decline To State" voters in the primary there, casting a ballot for a Democratic nominee is a bit more difficult
than you'd think would be necessary (the Republican primary is (un?)fortunately closed to independents). These "DTS" voters must request a Democratic Party ballot
(as opposed to a generic nonpartisan one without a section for the Presidency), and then (somewhat redundantly) fill a bubble at the top of that ballot reiterating their intent to participate in the Democratic primary.
Sounds simple enough. But the average voter has been confounded
by less than simple
. In spite of the potential for confusion, the local board of registrars has made the brilliant decision to have the scanning machines invalidate all ballots
that do not have that extra bubble filled in -- without informing the voter of the mistake. Furthermore, poll workers will not be required to inform DTS voters of their right to a Democratic ticket unless asked, a policy which State Senator Dean Florez said "violates the spirit of the law" in a stern letter
(scroll down to read) to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
While the issue at first glance seems purely local, the effects of any disenfranchisement will have great influence on Tuesday's results. It is common knowledge
that independents are drawn to Barack Obama's campaign, and with them locked out of supporting John McCain in the state's closed GOP primary, he was counting on their turnout to help top Hillary Clinton's erstwhile formidable lead. With the ballot issue threatening that support, the campaign was quick to explain the problem
. And for good reason -- the three quarters of a million DTS voters in Los Angeles amount to three-fourths of the votes cast in the all the Democratic primaries to date. Their influence can easily sway California, which itself will sway the media narrative coming out of Super Tuesday.
For its part, the aforementioned Courage Campaign is hard at work spreading awareness with websites
, (minor) celebrity radio ads
, and cheesy YouTube skits
. Here's hoping their efforts pay off, and that we can finally get through an election -- even one as crucial as SupercalifragalisticexpialaTuesday -- without an intractable struggle for recounts