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Election Justice USA heads to court in California voter suppression hearing

to voteOn Wednesday, the national voting rights advocacy groupElection Justice USA is scheduled to be heard in United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The advocates, through EJUSA attorney Bill Simpich and civil rights attorney, Stephen Jaffe, plan to present new evidence in a voting rights case filed on behalf of the California electorate on May 20. The case alleged that voter materials sent out in advance of the June 7 primary lacked critical instructions necessary for an informed electorate in violation of state elections laws.

Plaintiffs in the filing portrayed a bi-partisan commitment to end unfair voter suppression and disenfranchisement tactics. Both theAmerican Independent Party (AIP), an ultra-conservative right-leaning organization and liberal supporters of Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined in the suit.

 “These omissions will likely discourage thousands of California voters,” Bill Simpich, Attorney for plaintiffs said in a release. “Independent voters who have stated ‘no party preference (NPP)’ may not be able to vote in the June 7th primary because of the confusion over how to obtain a party-based Presidential primary ballot. Those ballots are not automatically mailed with their nonpartisan ballot. they must be requested by the voters. That has not been made clear in the instructions sent.”

The new evidence added to the lawsuit addresses the “mass confusion” surrounding the participation of “no party preference” (NPP) voters, who did not indicate a party preference upon registration in California’s Presidential Primary,” Shyla Nelson, spokesperson for EJUSA said in a release on Tuesday. “The new evidence demonstrates non-uniform, contradictory, and omitted instructions to poll workers and voters; these practices violate California law and threaten to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of California voters from across the political spectrum.”

NPP voters were not informed of the need to vote a cross-over ballot and did not receive a cross-over ballot in the mail. The ballots sent out by elections officials in multiple counties were not the proper ballot, and enclosed information did not include instructions for NPP voters to request the cross-over or indicate that there was a need to do so. According to Tuesday’s release, in California, NPP voters cannot cast a ballot in the presidential primary unless they obtain a special crossover ballot allowing them to vote for the Democratic, American Independent, or Libertarian candidate of their choice.

The lawsuit seeks to compel California elections authorities to provide clear and uniform instructions to poll workers and voters. Plaintiffs are seeking an order for dissemination of voter information through public service announcements and multi-media channels including radio, television, print and social media outlets.

Voter suppression lawsuits were also filed by EJUSA in Arizona and New York on behalf of the state electorates. Wednesday’s hearing is scheduled to take place at the Federal Courthouse at 11 a.m.

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