How the Sanders-Clinton Contest in California Failed Voters
Truthdig By Jordan Elgrably
Bernie Sanders inspired millions of Americans this year and became stiff competition for Hillary Clinton’s bid to become our next president. He was the only candidate who seriously addressed the growing income inequality in this country, referring to the Wall Street bailouts and the incredible tax breaks and loop holes enjoyed by the very wealthy and large corporations, who either fail to pay their fare share of taxes, or pay no taxes at all. (Indeed, a March 2016 USA Today report found that 27 “giant profitable companies,” among them General Motors, paid zero taxes in 2015.)
It is probable that a Sanders win in California would have made a difference in the national contest. Yet while millions of voters turned out for Senator Sanders across the nation, millions of our votes in California were never counted. In case you thought voter suppression went out in the year 2000 when we had “hanging chads” in Florida’s Gore-Bush contest, I have bad news for you: voter suppression is still in full swing.
First, as of Thursday, June 9, more than 2.5 million votes in California had yet to be counted, according to Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office. A full accounting of those ballots will not be completed until the end of June at the earliest, yet Hillary Clinton has already been announced as the unchallenged winner in California’s Democratic Primary.
Second, there are a staggering 4.2 million independent, “No Party Preference” or NPP voters in California. As you can imagine, many of them would be voting for Senator Sanders, who for years represented his Vermont constituents as an independent, progressive and even socialist politician whose loyalty to his ideals for social justice came before any party loyalty. Yet according to investigative journalist Greg Palast, writing for NationofChange.org, “In some counties like Los Angeles, it’s not easy for an NPP to claim their right to vote in the Democratic primary — and in other counties, nearly impossible.”
Palast found that unless NPP voters who wanted to vote for Sanders asked for a “crossover ballot” at their polling place, their normal NPP ballot would automatically not include the presidential race. Noted poll worker Mimi Kennedy, "NPP voters who relied on vote-by-mail were sent the NPP ballot by default that had no presidential choices on it. They could avoid this only by attending to a postcard they didn't know was coming, which asked them to check off the crossover ballot they'd prefer, if any."
According to Election Justice USA, in some counties poll workers were instructed—apparently by rogue or ignorant trainers rather than official county process—to give NPP voters who requested a “crossover ballot” a provisional ballot. Notes Palast, who has tracked elections in the U. S. for years and is the author of two books on election fraud, “Provisional ballots are generally discarded.”
As poll worker Mimi Kennedy pointed out to me, based on her experience, "L.A. County, the nation's third largest voting jurisdiction, has a meticulous process, but it's subject to California's 'surrender rule' which creates blizzards of provisional votes. Vote-by-mail voters must surrender their unvoted mail ballot to vote regularly at the polls. Otherwise, they must vote provisionally. Many voters are just unaware of being registered permanent absentee." Says Kennedy, "It's difficult to change that status. Many mailed ballots—almost half, according to the California Voter Foundation—never 'connect' with their intended recipients. Other voters got the ballot, but didn't know about the surrender rule. This year, there are more than a million provisional votes across California counties, each with a different process of counting or rejection."
Voting is a privilege and an obligation in a democracy, and as a voter in a state as big as California, I feel that my vote as John Q. Citizen actually makes a difference. Imagine the frustration, then, of millions of other Californians who were either unable to vote in this presidential primary or whose vote wasn’t even taken into consideration when Hillary Clinton was announced the winner of the contest.
The choice American voters now face is two presidential nominees who are both under investigation for fraud and corruption. Donald Trump is the subject of multiple lawsuits for alleged swindles by Trump University, and is being pursued by New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman for defrauding thousands of students. Hillary Clinton is the subject of an FBI criminal investigation into her use of a private email server that may have damaged national security. Also, the FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the myriad questionable business dealings of the Clinton Foundation, including potential influence peddling while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, in particular involving her approval of the sale of shares in a uranium mining ranch in Utah. My other concern about Hillary is that she is an admitted protégé of war criminal Henry Kissinger, and has shown herself to be a hawk when it comes to foreign military adventures.
Millions of Americans who might have voted for Bernie Sanders, a peace candidate if ever there was one—Sanders was one of the few people in Washington who voted against the Iraq War in 2003 that has proven devastating to the entire region—have been hoodwinked into thinking our election process is fair and impartial.
This is not a democracy when each and every vote isn’t counted.
Perhaps the best we can hope for is that Elizabeth Warren becomes Hillary's running mate and vice president, because she might be able to dissuade HRC from making some of those inevitable bellicose decisions. In fact, the best outcome would be that both Warren and Bernie Sanders become an essential aspect of the coming four years.
Jordan Elgrably is a writer near Los Angeles.