LOS ANGELES (TheBlaze/AP) — A survey has found that tens of thousands of voters — including celebrities such as Kaley Cuoco, Demi Moore and Emma Stone — mistakenly registered as members of a conservative minor political party in California in a mix-up over its name.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that a telephone survey of 500 members of the American Independent Party found nearly 3 of 4 people did not realize they had enrolled in a political party that opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage and calls for building a fence along the U.S. border.
The newspaper said voters were confused by the use of the word "independent" in the party's name. In California, voters who do not want to register with any party must check a box on a registration form for "no party preference."
Moore was among Hollywood celebrities with known Democratic leanings listed as members. She has contributed money to and campaigned for President Barack Obama. Her registration as an AIP member is wrong, a representative said.
"Demi Moore is not, nor has ever been, a member of the American Independent Party," the representative told the Times. “Any record that states otherwise is a mistake.”
The American Independent Party's roots date back to 1967 when George Wallace, a segregationist, launched his second run for the White House. Wallace, who had run as a Democrat in 1964, helped create the new party and ran on its ticket. Today, that party exists only in California.
"We’re not segregationist anymore,” said Markham Robinson, who serves as chairman of the American Independent Party’s executive committee. “What we are now is a conservative, constitutionalist party.”
Apparently that's not good enough news for Cuoco.
“The views of this party do not accurately reflect my personal beliefs and I am not affiliated with any political party,” the star of “The Big Bang Theory” said in a statement to The Times. “As such, I am taking the necessary steps to immediately remove my name as a member of this voting party.”
Stone — along with boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, who also mistakenly registered with the AIP — plan to re-register before the June election, representatives told The Times.
When Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, registered to vote in 2013, he selected the American Independent Party. A family spokesman said Schwarzenegger, 22, plans to change his registration.
According to the Secretary of State's Office, the party has about 472,000 members, or 2.7 percent of the statewide total — and is still vastly outnumbered by Democrats (43%), Republicans (28%) and those stating "no party preference" (24%), the Times reported.
The Times reported that the mistaken registration could prevent people from casting votes in the June 7 presidential primary, which is considered California's most competitive in recent years. Voters affiliated with the American Independent Party will only be allowed to vote for candidates on the party's ballot, the Times reported. The Republicans will have a closed primary, while the Democrats will allow unaffiliated voters to participate.
The deadline to register or change voter registration status for the June 7 primary is May 23.
"I just blew it," Deborah Silva, 64, of Point Arena in Mendocino County, told the Times. "There were a number of choices. I just checked the box that said 'independent.'"
Silva told the paper she left the Democratic Party after being at her “wit’s end” from the deluge of mail, phone calls and other campaign paraphernalia from Democrats trying to win her vote.
“I think the name should be something different,” Gail Pellerin, Santa Cruz County’s registrar of voters, told the Times. “Right now, it’s misleading.”
“I had a voter totally break down and cry in my lobby,” Pellerin added to the paper, recalling a young woman who wanted to vote in the 2008 Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but couldn’t because she'd registered with the American Independent Party.
“The poor thing just sobbed,” Pellerin told the Times. “It’s very frustrating.”
The survey of members of the American Independent Party was conducted by telephone Feb. 9-11. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
After being asked questions about their registration, the Times reported that voters were read a series of statements from the American Independent Party’s official platform, a combination of specific and broad political beliefs.
More from the Times:
It calls for abiding by duties given to “all men” by “the God they are commanded to love.” It supports a “pro-life Constitution” and proclaims that marriage between a man and a woman is a “God-ordained contract.” And the platform supports what the party labels as the 2nd Amendment’s “right to self defense” and calls for building a fence around the entire United States border.
After being read excerpts of the platform, more than 50% of those surveyed in the poll said they wanted to leave the American Independent Party. The more specific the platform position, the weaker the support of those surveyed. Most of the voters who were polled knew little, if anything, about the party to which they belong.
Amanda Cabanilla, 25, is a one-time Democrat who changed her registration with the intention of being independent of all political parties, the Times said. After she was contacted by the papers’ pollsters, she told the Times she researched the AIP.
“I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” she told the Times later. “They are far to the right of the Republican Party, and their ‘independence’ kind of has the implication that they’re a more centrist or moderate party.”