Election 2016 – The Primaries

If the shenanigans of the primaries are any indication, The 2016 Presidential Election will be a milestone in corruption. For example, in Arizona, which has a closed (party members...
Hillary Campaign 2016 Taking Money
Photo by Bill B via Flickr

If the shenanigans of the primaries are any indication, The 2016 Presidential Election will be a milestone in corruption.

For example, in Arizona, which has a closed (party members only) system, Latina/Latino dominate, Maricopa County cut its number of polling stations from 200 to 60. They said this was to cut costs, even though whiter Pima County had doubled its number of polling stations.  This was made possible by the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. The resulting long lines are only part of the disenfranchisement. Voter registration issues listed some Democrats as Republicans and others as having already voted when they hadn’t. If voters objected, they were offered provisional ballots, which even poll workers admitted probably wouldn’t get counted.

Similarly, in Brooklyn, more than 100,000 voters were purged from voter rolls.  Many reported that their party affiliation had been switched, unbeknownst to them, from Democrat to unaffiliated.  In a closed primary state like New York, this meant they couldn’t vote for President. Throughout the state, voters reported long lines, closed polls and one case, election workers sleeping on the job.

In another example of corruption inside the democratic process, the Nevada caucus saw 64 Bernie Sanders delegates disqualified on the fatuous grounds that they were Republicans, even though some of them were on the Nevada Democratic Committee and lifelong Democrats.  Clinton won by 35 delegates. In some cases delegates were sent to the wrong locations, lines were long, rooms were crowded, disabled voters were not adequately accommodated and the Democratic Party of Nevada employed some strange delegate math. In one precinct, Clinton received 80% of the delegates while earning nearly 70% of the votes while Sanders got 20% of the delegates for 30% of the votes. In another precinct, Clinton received 6 delegates, based on the total number of voters in the precinct, while Sanders received 8 delegates based on the number of voters present at the caucus.

Lastly, in California, which had a semi-closed primary for the Democrats, both Democrats and No Party Preference (NPP) voters could vote in the primary. Well, sort’a. NPP voters are 4.1 million Californians.  When polled, 75% of those asked said they were planning on voting for Sanders. Most registered Democrats were favoring Clinton. For NPP voters to participate in the Democratic primary they need to bring their NPP ballot and its envelope and say, “I am surrendering my ballot and I want a Crossover Democratic Party ballot”. No envelope – no vote. Poll workers in Mendocino, San Bernardino, Orange, Sonoma and other counties were instructed to not inform voters how the NPP system worked.  Voters from Cloverdale and Bolder Creek reported that poll workers told them that they hadn’t heard of Crossover ballots and instead offered these voters provisional ballots. Provisional ballots are the last to be counted, if they are counted at all. Stay-at-home NPP voters were required to mail back their unmarked NPP ballot and request the Crossover Democratic Party ballot, then wait for that to arrive before they could vote by mail, if it arrived in time.  Many voters reported unintended party switching. Polls ran out of ballots, some polls weren’t wheelchair accessible and in Contra Costa, one polling station opened at 11:00 a.m. AP announced Clinton as the winner, three hours before polls closed in California, based on leaked anonymous super delegates stated voting intentions. Provisional ballots were being offered like Halloween candy. What to do?

First off, check with the county registrar to make sure you are registered. Vote in person on a paper ballot and do not accept provisional ballots. If offered, demand to use the disabled voters’ voice vote system instead or, as one potentially disenfranchised voter in West Hollywood did, call the cops. This guy was bounced to three different polling stations and at the third, when offered a provisional ballot for the third time, he called the cops. Only then, was he allowed to vote on a real ballot. Herein lies our solution. Get aggressive about your right to vote. When we are passive, understanding or compromising, we always lose. When we are militant, sometimes we win.

Sources: Flashpoints 5/25/16, 5/26/16, 6/1/16, 6/6/16/ 6/7/16, 6/8/16,

Rebel Fagin writes for the Peace Press, and gcml.org.


Rebel Fagin is a writer who has been politically active in Sonoma County since the 1970’s. He writes regularly for the Sonoma County Peace Press and the Global Critical Media Literacy Project (gcml.org). He has a book documenting nearly forty years of street activism in Sonoma County called Tales from the Perpetual Oppositional Culture – a Journey into Resistance. He lives in Santa Rosa, California and is active with many activists’ organizations.
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