Keep Trump on the California Ballot

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

No Californian in their right mind should vote for Donald Trump. But plenty of Californians aren’t in their right minds, and these sad souls have rights too.

And they should be able to vote for the incumbent president for re-election on the Republican presidential primary ballot in California. 

Unfortunately, a well-intentioned—if plainly unconstitutional—bill, SB 27, would deny people this choice. It would keep Trump off the ballot if he doesn’t release his tax returns, by requiring the release of returns to be certified as a candidate. 

All presidential candidates should release their tax returns, but those that don’t shouldn’t be kept off the ballot if they are recognized national candidates for office, as Trump is.

That’s not just an opinion—it’s also in Article II, sec. 5, of the California constitution, which says: “the candidates on the (presidential primary) ballot are those found by the Sec. of State to be recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California.” (Hat tip to Richard Winger for pointing this out).

Trump is obviously a recognized candidate. 

Despite this clear direction from the constitution, SB 27 has been advancing in the legislature. It should die soon. Let people look at California ballots with Trump on them—and then, in the name of truth, justice and the American way, vote against him.

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