An effort to limit voter confusion in California by banning the use of the word “independent” in a political party’s name was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, a rejection of a proposal that would have forced one of the state’s lesser-known political parties to change its name.
The bill was the product of years of complaints by elections officials and political watchers who noted that voters who wanted to be unaffiliated with any party had been mistakenly registering with the American Independent Party of California instead of selecting the “no party preference” choice on voter forms. There were almost 518,000 voters registered with that party as of the last official state report, an increase of almost 30% over the past decade.
Newsom’s veto message said he couldn’t sign a bill that only impacted one group.
“By requiring one existing political party to change its current name, this bill could be interpreted as a violation of the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution,” he wrote.
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