Politics

Sanders supporters sue to extend California's voter registration deadline

YPSILANTI, MI - FEBRUARY 15:  A supporter of U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders holds a sign at Sanders' first campaign rally in Michigan at Eastern Michigan University February 15th, 2016 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
YPSILANTI, MI - FEBRUARY 15: A supporter of U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders holds a sign at Sanders' first campaign rally in Michigan at Eastern Michigan University February 15th, 2016 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Two attorneys who support Bernie Sanders have filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to extend Monday's voter registration deadline until the day of the state's primaries. 

The suit, filed Friday by attorneys William Simpich and Stephen Jaffe on behalf of the Voting Rights Defense Project, argues that complicated vote-by-mail procedures prevent voters who decline to choose a party—known as "no party preference" voters—from properly casting ballots in the state's primaries. 

"The application to vote by mail procedure makes it very confusing if you’re a 'no party preference' voter to get your ballot,” Simpich told KPCC.

The lawsuit argues that the state has not adequately informed "no party preference" voters that they can request a "crossover ballot" that allows them to vote in primaries for the Democratic, American Independent and Libertarian parties. If they don't obtain that separate ballot and try to write in a candidate on their normal ballot, it won't count, Simpich said.

The lawsuit names Secretary of State Alex Padilla and the registrars of voters in San Francisco and Alameda counties as defendants, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The suit asks a judge to issue an order to extend the voter registration deadline to June 7, the day of the state's primary, though it's unclear whether a judge could even approve such a request. As Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley tells the Times, same-day registration isn't yet possible, though California does have plans to launch such a system in 2018.

The suit also asks the state to launch a television, radio and online campaign to inform "no party preference" voters about ballot procedures.

"We want to see voters obviously turn out in as large numbers as possible," Simpich said. "We think, especially with independent voters, it's going to mean more votes for Bernie."

No court date has been set but Simpich said he expects a hearing to be held before June 7.

This story has been updated.