Legal Question in Constitutional Law in California

I live in California and in June I went to cast my vote only to be told I could not vote for who ever I wanted, only who was on my "party" ballot, in my case Republican. I had a few Democrats I wanted to vote for and was told I could not. Is this not the government taking away my right to vote for who ever I want? This is not right! I heard there was a lady trying to sue for her constitutional right to vote for whoever she wants. Can this be done?

Thank you so very much


Asked on 7/08/10, 7:43 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Robert F. Cohen Law Office of Robert F. Cohen

No. The ballot in June was for party primaries, except for some non-partisan offices, such as judges. They are internal affairs of the party to nominate candidates. You have a right to vote for whomever you want in the general election.

The voters, though, decided to hold open primaries in the future. That means, if you want to choose Republican candidates in the future, you may opt on-the-spot for a Republican primary ballot. If you want to choose Green candidates, you may opt for a Green primary ballot. We'll see how that works.

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Answered on 7/08/10, 10:49 pm

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

Sandi, you were voting in a Primary Election, not a General Election. You weren't voting for who you wanted to hold the office. You were supposed to be voting for your party's nominee to run for the office. In a Primary Election the registered voters in each party are voting for the candidates that they want to run against the other party's candidates in the General Election. The parties have a right to decide who can vote to be the representative of their party in the General Election, and only let voters registered in their party vote for their nominee. This right of the parties to control their own primaries was purportedly taken away in the same election you are complaining about, by an initiative. That initiative is, however, being challenged in court on the basis of the U.S. Constitutional right of free association, i.e., it may be unconstitutional for the government to prevent parties from only allowing party members to vote for who will be the party's nominee in the general election. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but if the U.S. Supreme Court disagrees with me and agrees with you, then next Primary Election you will be able to vote for whomever you want.

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Answered on 7/08/10, 10:56 pm
Daniel Bakondi The Law Office of Daniel Bakondi

It's funny that you bring this up. Technically for primaries you do not have the right to vote for anyone, just your party as it stands today. Can it be fixed? - maybe. However, I actually thought of a way to improve our political system and eliminate primaries altogether. Are you interested committing time and resources to bring an action?


Daniel Bakondi, Esq.

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The Law Office of Daniel Bakondi, APLC

870 Market Street, Suite 1161

San Francisco CA 94102

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Answered on 7/10/10, 8:59 pm

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