Elections Laws Illegally Force Some Candidates to Falsely State “No Party Preference”
LOS ANGELES – California’s Elections Code discriminates against candidates affiliated with so-called “non-qualified” parties by forcing them to falsely state “Party Preference: None” on the ballot when they clearly prefer a political party, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and pro-bono attorneys charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The suit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, was brought on behalf of Emidio Soltysik, the National Male Co-Chair and California State Chair of the Socialist Party USA, and Jennifer McClellan, a member of the Party’s National Committee. It seeks an injunction allowing candidates affiliated with non-qualified parties the same right to list their party preference afforded to other candidates.
The code violates candidates’ First Amendment and Equal Protection rights, said Brendan Hamme, an ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) attorney. “Party affiliation is the single largest factor in how the vast majority of voters vote,” he said. “Yet candidates who associate with non-qualified parties are denied the ability to convey this vital information to voters on the ballot.”
The code, Hamme said, discriminates against non-qualified party candidates by targeting their speech for differential treatment based on their expression – their viewpoint in particular.
“The State cannot restrict the speech of candidates simply because of their political ideology and party affiliation,” he said.