In light of recent court precedent that insulates political parties from any form of regulation by the state, the Independent Voter Project (IVP) is challenging the public funding and administration of party central committee elections.
California state law provides that a county registrar shall conduct party central committee elections at the request of any qualified political party (see e.g., California Elections Code sections 7230 and 7425).
However, as the political parties have successfully argued in court, a party’s county central committee does not perform any governmental functions and membership in the committee is not a public office (see, Wilson v. San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central Committee 175 Cal. App. 4th 489, 500 (2009), holding that California Election Code provisions that seek to govern the composition of a party central committee violate the First Amendment rights of political parties and their members).
The California Supreme Court has also held that taxpayer funds shall not be disbursed unless “a direct and substantial public purpose is served and non-state entities are benefited only as an incident to the public purpose.” (California Housing Finance Authority v. Elliot 17 Cal. 3d 575, 583 (1976).)
In light of this precedent, the Independent Voter Project is asking all county registrars to refrain from expending any public resources for the administration of party central committee elections unless each political party requesting such administration first agrees to reimburse taxpayers for the full and fair public costs related thereto.