POLITICS

California's Butterfly Ballot?

Getting independent voters in California to the polls can already be tough enough for Democrats looking for a big win in the Golden State. But less than 24 hours before voters go to the polls on Super Tuesday, voting rights groups in Southern California have a new rallying cry for independents: don't forget the bubble!

Independent voters who show up at their local polling place in Los Angeles County on Tuesday and ask for a Democratic ballot have to fill in an extra bubble to show that they intend their vote to be counted for the Democrats. The bubble is at the top of the ballot, before the presidential candidates are listed.

Those who forget to fill in the bubble won't have their votes read by the county's tabulation machines.

Voting rights groups and progressive bloggers are already warning of a California "Butterfly Ballot," referring to the infamous voting slip from Florida that introduced the phrase "hanging chad" into the American lexicon.

The Courage Campaign, a grassroots organization working to get more independents to vote in the Democratic Primary is threatening legal action if L.A. County does not address the issue before Tuesday's election.

Los Angeles County's top election official told the Associated Press that he didn't think the problem would trip up that many voters.

"It would almost be counterintuitive for someone to miss," said Dean Logan, the acting county registrar. "We have put this information in voter education materials, and we've provided real clear instructions."

But Rick Jacobs, president of the Courage Campaign said that voters shouldn't have to accept that "intuition" will guide how their votes are counted.

"Just ask the people of Florida about the role of intuition in counting votes. It's already tough enough to vote in the Democratic primary for president. With three quarters of a million "Decline-to-State" voters in Los Angeles County, the least the county registrar of voters can do is guarantee that the ballots are accurately counted."

Jacobs pointed out that there are 776,000 independent voters in Los Angeles County, or roughly 3/4 of the total number of voters who have already voted in the early voting states.