The Democratic Party’s California primary made it hard for pro-Sanders independents to vote, with many denied the right ballots and many young voters forced to vote “provisionally,” giving Hillary Clinton a boost toward victory, writes Rick Sterling.
By Rick Sterling
Richmond California is a refinery town in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is also where there is a diverse working class community with a strong Richmond Progressive Alliance which previously elected a Green Party Mayor. Bernie Sanders visited the city and actively supported the populist movement in February 2014 making it likely that Bernie Sanders would receive strong support in Richmond.
My daughter is a school psychologist in Richmond’s local school system. Here is her experience Tuesday in the California Primary Election:
“Never have I felt so much that my vote doesn’t count! My Richmond, CA polling place at 1340 Marina Way South was an absolute mess.
“1. The location was different from every other time I’ve voted out here and Google initially mapped me to an abandoned patch of dirt next to a park.
“2. After I eventually figured out how to get there, myself and few other people waited in the wrong line for about 10-15 minutes, because the signs weren’t appropriately marked.
“3. Finally I get to the table with ballots and I’m told they ran out of Democratic ballots.
“4. NONE of the people working there with the exception of 1 woman, that I don’t think even worked there (!) could explain to me how the stupid NXD ballot process works and even then I was still confused.
“5. I had to ASK for the other ballot with the prop measures and senate vote because the guy forgot to give it to me!
“6. After I finished filling out my ballots, a woman takes my ballot with the prop measures and slides it in the machine, then LOOKS at my presidential ballot vote and stuffs it in a box that is filled to the brim with other provisional ballots. I asked her when it would be counted and she said in a few weeks.
“7. Before I even get home the opposing candidate has been proclaimed winner.
“I already reported all this BS to Bernie’s voter complaint hotline, but I’m ready for a revolution y’all.”
That experience was shared by many others in California. This Los Angeles Times story is headlined: “It was just chaos: Broken machines, incomplete voter rolls leave some wondering whether their ballots will count.”
The report documents in writing and video the experience of numerous people with the observation that “experts said the culprit for Tuesday’s voting problems seems to be a confluence of factors — old voting machines, a competitive election that has drawn new voters, plus complex state voting laws that can be hard for poll volunteers and voters to follow.”
Huffington Post reported “LA Primary Mired in Voting Problems.” Across the city many people were forced to vote “provisionally” due to machine breakdowns and other problems. (Provisional ballots are often not counted and have been criticized as essentially “placebos” to give voters the belief they have voted when their ballots will later be discarded, as Greg Palast describes in an article about the tricks used to discourage independent voter participation in California.)
Prior to the election there were reports of poll workers being misinformed in official training sessions.
Supposedly with 100 percent of the vote counted, the results show 1.94 million for Hillary Clinton and 1.50 million for Bernie Sanders for a total vote count of 3.44 million votes. This contrasts with a total vote count of over 5 million in the 2008 California primary election. Where are all the missing votes? How many provisional votes have not yet been counted?
One might argue that the 2008 California was held on “Super Tuesday” in February and that generated more participation. However given the huge excitement over the Sanders campaign and high interest in the election race, it’s hard to explain such a large decline when the population has increased.
One might argue that news reports that Hillary Clinton had already won the race, broadcast on the eve of the election, reduced participation. This is evidence of media bias and spin but it’s hard to see it suppressing the participation of Sanders supporters who came out in tens of thousands day after day in cities throughout the state.
Huge crowds of Sanders supporters waited for hours to participate enthusiastically in Stockton, Vallejo, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, San Diego and beyond. It’s hard to see them being fooled or dissuaded from voting by a dubious AP story possibly promoted by the Clinton campaign.
Sixteen years ago, with Al Gore having little challenge to becoming the Democratic nominee, 3.2 million voters participated in the California primary race. At that time relatively few progressives or independents were participating in the Democratic primary race.
In short, it does not seem credible that there are 30 percent fewer votes, a drop-off of more than 1.5 million, this year compared with eight years ago. How many provisional ballots remain uncounted? Going back to my daughter’s experience in Richmond, how many boxes filled to the brim with provisional ballots are there throughout the state? Where are the missing ballots?
Rick Sterling works with Mt Diablo Peace & Justice Center, Syria Solidarity Movement and Task Force on the Americas. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better!
Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
He always kept preaching about this. I’ll send this article to him.
Pretty sure he’s going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!
I think the bottom line is we live in a third world democracy with election. processes designed to frustrate voters and ensure results meet the party line. California’s primary rules are as complex as North Carolina’s are disenfranchising. IF the parties wanted to have an open and fair process’s it could do so with ease. Oregon’s process.is simple, open, and inclusive (with the only limit being they held a closed primary -but even there one can go online, change party affiliation and you’re good to go) You get a ballot mailed to you two weeks before election day, you have time to read about the candidates, propositions, and then either mail the ballot or drop it in a collection box.
Yes, the powers that be could allow for a fair, simple democratic process, but then how could they hide behind the smoke and mirrors.
The decades-long destruction of our voting system has a lot in common with domestic violence:
1 – Each incident is treated like an isolated event. The obvious pattern over time is not acknowledged.
2 – Each incident is explained away, justified. Why it happened and who benefited are never discussed.
3 – We adjust rather than making changes. We have complete electoral meltdowns, like Arizona, New York, and California this primary, and there is no investigation, no one is held accountable, no changes are made.
4 – The end result is a loss of confidence and disempowerment for one party, a sense of entitlement and lack of accountability for the other, and a vast imbalance of power.
I get the feeling this whole election has been carefully orchestrated from the beginning. Who is behind it I don’t know.
Remember that quote from Bernays,”Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” Someones in my head and it’s not me. Maybe I really do need a tinfoil hat.
California proves that cheating pays, especially if it has the full support of the “mainstream media”.
Nearly 2.6 million votes have yet to be counted in California say state officials – days after the election:
“From the California Secretary of State, 2,586,331 ballots remain to be processed, consisting of 1,801,816 vote-by-mail ballots, 705,489 privisional ballots, and 79,026 “others,” which are described as ‘ballots that are damaged or ballots that could not be machine read and need to be remade, and ballots diverted by optical scanners for further review.’ Updates will be posted athttp://vote.sos.ca.gov/unprocessed-ballots-status “
The whole system simply reeks of corruption to favor the establishment candidate. And the media is in on it.
They are complaining about elections in Russia which is certainly not without reason but this to me does not sound much better. In fact, just like the Western media seems to adopt Pravda-style propaganda the election-system appear more and more copied from Russia as well. And look at some huge corportations, are they really much more effective then the Lada-factory or Aeroflot in the old Soviet Union? Some of the recent purges performed at some IT companies also remind to some dark days in the Soviet Union, perhaps not as drastic individually but in style comparable. We are observed constantly by the NSA and civil liberties have been watered down in order to fight the kulaks, errm, I meant terrorists. So who has then really won the cold war? What system was victorious after all?
All this reminds me of a much quoted phrase that has been put to Stalin’s mouth in the old days:
“It does not matter how people vote, what matters is who counts the votes.”
And now – in the US? Not the first time either. Remember the Presidential Election Bush – Gore and the count and re-count of Florida votes. Did the country get the wrong president?
I’m not allowed to vote over there, being a citizen and resident in a North European country. The media in Europe is handling Clinton with “silk gloves” and most people do not really know how disliked and distrusted she is in her home country.
Only 3.44 million voters voting this year in CA is a suspiciously low figure, especially with all the new registrations in the weeks before its primary. That’s less than ten percent of CA’s total population.
Given the excitement in the weeks leading up to the CA primary, I refuse to believe that in the end, only 3.44 million voters bothered to vote. Was the AP announcement that effective? I don’t buy it.
I expected about twice as many people who were supposed to show up to vote this year – or somewhere in the neighborhood of six million.
I voted provisionally in Alameda County , CA and was told that they have been promised that the provisional votes would be counted “this time”.. I was given a little red white and blue sticker that said ” I voted”. All good. I am also an Independent declined to state party affiliation voter and have been one since 1976. In previous elections I could vote for any candidate I wanted regardless of Party. It is ironic that the last time I voted in person at a voting station, (I have been voting absentee by mail for well over a decade now but that was not possible for me this time) , I was also given the same sticker. Last time I voted on an electronic voting machine . I was given no read out or any information that proved I had voted, only a sticker. That was in 2000 and we all can remember what happened. The Independent vote for Sanders was suppressed by California State Government and the Two Parties. The request by the Sanders Camp to loosen the rules was squashed in court. Maybe our vote still matters but I do not believe it. The election in Nov. is going to happen and a candidate loathed by their own Party’s core and over half the General Population will be elected President. I do not see how I, in good conscience, can participate in an affirmation of either of these candidates. I’ve voted since 1976 . It is obvious to me that it does not matter. The process is a farce and my vote is meaningless. Accordingly, ipso facto, this is a waste of time. It is insulting. I have said many times since 1980 when I started thinking for myself, THE 2 PARTIES ARE THE PROBLEM.
Greg Palast, New York Times bestselling author and investigative journalist, discusses how the 2016 election will be stolen and by whom:
Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic.
Palast is known for complex undercover investigations, spanning five continents, using the skills he learned over two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. He uncovered the theft of the 2000 US presidential election in Florida (Guardian, BBC, The Nation, Harper’s), the hidden story of BP’s Deepwater Horizon blow-out (ARTE, Channel 4 TV), and the Bush Administration’s secret pre-invasion plans for the oil fields of Iraq (BBC, Harper’s).
Voter suppression is real. It’s a crime.
And it’s happening to YOU.
Steal Back Your Vote!
Greg Palast’s and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s investigative comic
Download Voting Guide Comic for FREE or a DONATION
It does appear typical and Richmond, with a Green Party mayor, appears to be the most likely area where shenanigans would be engaged in by party hacks. As for the vote reduction, it takes California about a month to count the votes. The other thing is that the psychology of those voting for the harpy is such that they tend to vote the earliest when postal voting becomes the key. This factor helps lamestream reporting since she does better in the immediate count. My bet is that the uncounted votes, or at least most of them, will eventually be counted, and they will materially change the result, though too late to affect anything, and that the harpy will still be on top but only by 4% or so as a result of these vote suppressing methods and the fact that the press spuriously announced her “victory” in the nomination process based on a secret poll of super delegates.
Unfortunately for her, the corrupt methods of her party “victory” are apparent to all. It is also true that her opponent, Trump, is not as bad as the politically correct commentariat views him. His positions on foreign policy are actually far less odious than the harpy’s and his views on trade are more popular and less treasonous. Even the racist canard against Trump, while having some substance, is partly fabricated. This latest judge case involving this lawsuit involves the fact that the plaintiff’s lawyer and the judge are old associates in this ethnic-based organization and that they both called for a boycott of Trump’s businesses before engaging in what could be construed as a measure of cooperation in the lawsuit. Meanwhile, it is Hillary, not Trump, who supported the jihadi takeover of Libya which, as part of its accomplishment included a mass liquidation of ethnic Africans whom Khaddafi had allowed to settle there as “mercenaries.” The whole thing is depressing to say the least.
Interesting, Trump got short of 1.2m votes, below Romney’s just over 1.3m, seemed odd to me.
The fact they take weeks to count the vote is part of the problem. The figures out now don’t include the postal votes they received in the last week or so which may change the result (but not Trump’s significantly.) I supported Sanders but in my view, survival trumps political correctness. Who is a bigger threat to start a nuclear war, the Harpy or the Donald?
Trump has already won,so I’m sure the republican turnout was less than 4 years ago.
Under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, every voter who casts a provisional ballot is entitled to find out from his/her county elections official if the ballot was counted and if not, the reason why it was not counted.
Under California Elections Code sections 3017 (PDF) and 3019.5 (PDF), a voter who casts a vote-by-mail ballot can find out if the ballot arrived at his/her county elections office, if the ballot was counted, and, if not, the reason why it was not counted.
you are a troll
you are a troll, and Robert, my subsequent comment about electronic voting was removed b before I could post it
the above comment says it I think HAVA was a fraud
Robert, I posted it FYI FWIW. I had just investigated if there was an online mechanism for checking if my NPP/D was counted. Too soon, right now, but the CA page acknowledged the date it had mailed me the crossover absentee ballot I requested on 5/24.
No one should be surprised at the corruption prevalent in the Democratic and Republican parties. The mind-boggling aspect prompts a question: “Why have the American people accepted and enabled this vile and squalid aspect of American politics for so long?” It will take loads of BS to concoct excuses for this deplorable condition.
This story also suggests, unfortunately, the Bernie Sanders campaign failed to warn his supporters about how the crossover ballots worked for independents so they could cast the votes they wanted. But this event helps to make obvious the corruption of the Democratic Party in general and the California Democratic Party in particular.
Thanks for putting this out there. When I first heard of the voting shenanigans, I was relieved. I’d lived in California (northern, so we were all progressives) and couldn’t imagine Californians voting so overwhelmingly for Clinton. Now at least I know that they didn’t–but can we correct this? This was the biggest last state to vote and Bernie needed to take it, hopefully by a large margin. I think the theft of the primary results in California is a terrible wrong and should be a serious crime. Someone needs to go after the guilty parties who, I’m confident, are a part of the Clinton team.
By the way, the Wall Street Journal reported a few days ago that there were nearly 18 million new voter registrations in California. I think those folks tried to vote, maybe several did, but where are the votes? Here’s a couple of other stats from the article:
“California officials reported a boom in residents registering as Democrats within the last 45 days of the sign-up period before Tuesday’s primary. During that time about 500,000 Californians newly registered or re-registered as Democrats, 136,000 as Republicans and 60,000 without a party preference.”
“Of all the state’s registered voters, the office said 44.8% are Democrats, 27.3% Republicans and 23.3% have no party affiliation. Minor-party registrations make up the rest.”
This theft has a huge bearing not only on all Californians, all US citizens, and the entire world–Hillary is a neocon war-monger unrivaled.
Are you from California? I’m now on the opposite side of the country, but maybe you could join or organize a group that would challenge all of this in court.
By the way, if you haven’t read the following, you’ll see this has been a setup by the collusion of Establishment forces. It’s a great article: “Was Hillary Caught Colluding With AP To Announce Delegate Win Before California” at:
We’ve all got to do what we can to make a difference. Your article helps. Thanks.
Does the rationale from the Palast piece (first link in this article) wash?? After XX years in politics and XX months in current race?? A ‘painfully amateur’ campaign???
“Most of this procedural nonsense, like the need to surrender an NPP ballot with an envelope and request a “crossover” ballot – well, frankly, Bernie’s campaign has known about that all year.
“The Sanders campaign was spending time talking policy at giant rallies instead of educating their voters on how to vote. In the rat maze called the American voting system, the painfully amateur Sanders campaign never provided a vote-guiding map.”
I find it curious to blame the victim of US totalitarianism posing as democracy.
I’m thinking on the lines of:
-Did Sanders campaign know about the CA ‘procedural nonsense’ far in advance? (Yes)
-Did Sanders warn about ‘procedural nonsense’ and how to navigate it in any rally speeches? (Not that _I_ saw in the televised edits. Anyone else?)
-If not, why not? (He was the ‘victim’ of a painfully amateurish camaign? Really? Anything more likely than that?)
Great line of thinking Anon. I’ve lived in CA for over 10 years…nobody explained the ‘procedural nonsense’ to me nor did I educate myself in its ways. Bad on me? I clamor about the unjust, unfair, and ruthless socio-ecomomic environment of the US almost daily yet still haven’t internalized a true resistance (i.e. Deep Green Resistance) attitude toward it as evidenced by my childish attitude that our primary and electoral systems are free, fair, and democratic. Question is, do I (as well as you and many others who recognize the cliff that we are one small step away from) have the courage and willingness to turn around and walk the other direction…to replace the slave + occupation state that was/is the US with a more sustainable and just one? Do we know what that kind of power is or how to use it?
John, I’d say we’re all pretty conservative of what we have. Even if we have relatively little, exchanging a well-defined, semi-stable known (corrupt) for an ill-defined, unstable unknown (goal: justice/integrity) is a heavy stretch.
I think a vote of no confidence (formal ‘None of the Above’ ballot option) would be well within the comfort zone of most. A good start.
Sanders campaign is not running the voting events, while it would be useful for his campaign to inform voters as to what they should ask for- it is not his job.
It should have been the job of the people running the election/voting. They also should have been instructed to inform NPP voters to ask for the democratic cross over ballot if they wanted to vote for the democratic primary. Instead they were told to not mention the democratic crossover ballots, and instead only offer it if specifically asked for it.
Of course the real question remains what happened to all the provisional ballots, because they have not been counted yet despite CA being called by the AP.
Anon, Bernie sent out several e-mails referring us to the Registrar website to check our voting status. Several reminders came from them re the CA rules, May 23 deadline. They learned after NY and they did what they could. Also KPFK and other progressive sources explained the rules for CA i.e do not take provisional card, ask for crossover etc. We cannot blame Bernie for CA. The whole election process was very distasteful almost everywhere, starting with the coin tossing, closed primaries, Brooklyn and now California. We as voters also have to be responsible for our actions.
We knew from the beginning that the system is rigged so we needed to be alert and aggressive with our votes.
@Annie, @Jared, blame aside, can you think of a reason Bernie chose not to broadcast it himself?
I phonebanked for the Sanders campaign and while calling CA we were instructed to explain to the NPP registered voters how they needed to surrender the ballot they received in the mail and request a democratic cross-over ballot at the polling station.
So, yes, the campaign was making an effort to inform CA NPP voters, on a one-on-one basis (by phonebanking) about how they needed to vote.
I’m not aware of him mentioning it in rally speeches but have we listened to every single one?
What is your opinion on why Bernie chose not to broadcast it himself?
Cat, my initial guess was that he approached party and election officials with his complaints and was assured they would ‘do everything possible’ to ‘address his concerns’. In return for these good faith efforts, in the interest of comity, Bernie would agree not to make the ‘rigged’ process a keynote of his CA campaign.
In that frame, Pallast’s ‘painfully amateur campaign’ description could be referring to credulity – wanting to believe in the pledged good faith efforts of others.
Bernie has been lying low on the election fraud because it comes across as being a sore loser. If it comes from the people, well now that’s another story. One that is already finding it’s way into the history books. It’s not always what you say, it’s also what you don’t say. Bernie is an intelligent man and he has been running a remarkable campaign.
That’s because it wasn’t the job of the Sanders campaign to educate the voters. That’s the (plainly biased) Sec of State’s job. Alex Padilla should be fired immediately after this corrupt boondoggle.
Oh, but wait it appeared Bernie’s people did make an attempt to warn their voters. I got this clip off of an article on global research;
Sanders campaigners were compelled to issue emergency instructions such as the following to their supporters:
“California, DO NOT WRITE IN Bernie Sanders on your ballot. If you do not see Bernie Sanders’ name printed on your ballot, then you have the wrong ballot and you need to exchange it for the proper ballot. Do NOT send it back, go exchange it for A Dem party CROSSOVER ballot.”
Let’s face it the Sanders campaign was sabotaged by the collusion between the Clinton people and the MSM.
Jill Stein is looking for volunteers to help her get on the ballot in all fifty states. I got my kids volunteering right now (they have done this type of work before), as I write this. Go to this site if interested, and if you care enough to help.
I’m sorry, but I can’t vote for either Hillary or the Donald. The best part was I told my kids a longtime ago, how this very thing would happen to Bernie, and that we should get involved with the Jill Stein campaign. Oh also if people say (like they did about Bernie) how Jill Stein won’t be able to get anything done, then just tell them to just vote for her and that we will all find out. Sometimes it comes down to just doing it. This is a good time as any to at least do something, other than complain.
Read this, this guy says it way better than I….
If it’s Hill, I’m with Jill
…and I’m with you, Joe.
Speaking of Alex Padilla, I called his office to ask why the “Presidential Primary Official Voter Guide” did not have the presidential candidate statements. The voter guide directs California’s citizens to a website to find out what the candidates have to say. They had the statements of all the people running for senate. The person I talked to in his office said that by law they have to publish by a certain date, and that they couldn’t get the statements by then. Really? That sounds pretty incompetent considering this is for the most important political office in the world. I told her that and I said that this is further proof that most of the democrats of today are republicans. I told her that I thought the democrats were the people who wanted everyone to vote. Suppressing votes, being dishonest, and playing dirty tricks are republican tactics. We expect that from the republicans not the democrats. I don’t mind losing. As a former athlete, I’m the first to congratulate an opponent on a good play or game. This was not a fair, open, or honest contest, but unfortunately, there seems to be no legal remedy for the travesty that has been unfolding this primary season. Please let us progressives have our own party. The dems have only disdain for our ideas. Rahm Emmanuel put it clearly when he called us fucking retards! That’s what they think of progressives! Peace, Love & Sunshine
I completely agree with this article. As a California resident who has never missed an election; I simply cannot believe the results. I had to wait in very long lines to see Bernie and that has never happened in my voting experience. As of today I have yet to see a Hillary yard sign or bumper sticker and still she wins going away? I don’t think so. Still, it will be fascinating to witness the Democratic Party’s response, especially Elizabeth Warren. I think careers will be made and lost in the next several days. It’s going to be very instructive if nothing else.
Why do we keep denying what’s going on? The California election results are complete BS…you, I, we all know it. We all saw the crowds that Sanders drew on his campaign rallies…those crowds are/were real people and are evidence of VOTERS. Contrast Sander’s rallies with Clinton’s…and now we are told that Clinton got more votes than Sanders?! Has anyone seen any unfiltered exit polls…not adjusted to reflect the “official” results? The Republican and Democratic parties no longer represent a path compatible with democratic ideals and its culture in my opinion, and should therefore be avoided like the plague and certainly none of their candidates should be voted for. Time to drop the charade Sanders…get the hell out of the Democratic party and refuse to be held hostage by it. I was not a Bernie or Bust person before our primary here in California…but I am now. The Green Party or the Peace and Freedom Party will get my vote in November. One way or another, all of our white, brown, black, yellow, red, etc. brothers and sisters must come together in a coalition to defend ourselves against either a Clinton or Trump administration…not just to defend ourselves, but to take control of our lives and futures and rid our lands of the cancerous capitalist socio-economic paradigm. Together we stand!
So eloquently truthful and herein our challenge Bernie people. Revolution, Revolution , Revolution! You won in my book Bernie. Great commentary John Ross.
Right on Mr. Ross….If the 43% of California voters for Bernie would all vote along with Jill Stein with the Green party in November we would have a victory in November for a woman candidate with moral values and who is as right on the domestic issues as is Bernie. Our peaceful revolution would indeed be won if this were made to happen in all the states. I wonder what we can expect from Bernie after next week’s D.C. primary is over? I do hope he does oppose the “Clinton machine” at the convention and we could all hope for some ethics from those establishment delegates at the party convention but that is no doubt a fantasy and it will never happen.
I’ll vote Jill Stein if Bernie fails us and backs Hillary…we do need this revolution.
Why do you and others participate. Is it that you want to legitimize what is essentially a dog and pony show repleat with criminality and fraud. Americans are not only gullible and mind controlled but masochistic as well. The candidates they get are the candidates they deserve.