We are now 47 days away from Super Tuesday. If you think that has something to do with the NFL’s Super Bowl, you need a lot of voter education. (The Super Bowl is Feb. 2.) March 3 is Super Tuesday when California and 12 other states will hold primary elections, including party voting for U.S. President.

Rollie Atkinson Column Photo

Rollie Atkinson

California’s primary used to be held in June, and it wasn’t very super because in recent elections, the major party nominations for presidential candidates were all-but wrapped up by that time. Not this year — maybe. There are 19 names on the Democratic ballot for president, including several names of candidates who have “suspended” their campaigns. How super, or not super, our California presidential votes will be, will be largely determined by what happens earlier in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. A leading candidate like Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders could lock up the Democratic nomination with a good trifecta win, place and show. We’re hoping for a more open horse race, so any of our votes for Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg might make a difference. 

We don’t like the presidential primary election format where a few thousand “caucus-ers” in Iowa and 90,000 New Hampshire Democrats could negate our March 3 votes. It is not a good form of democracy when worthy candidates like Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke have to drop out before any votes are cast because they ran out of money. Super Tuesday or not, we need a more fair and open primary process. The one we have now favors candidates with the most money or name recognition, not necessarily a candidate with the best ideas or character.

We all need a little voter education for the March 3 Primary. If you are a “decline to state” voter with no party preference, you might not get to vote for president at all. To vote for Republican, Peace & Freedom or Green Party candidates, you must be registered in that specific party. The Democratic, American Independent and Libertarian parties allow any registered voter to vote in their election. However, all “decline to state” voters must request a specific party ballot prior to the election. Postcards were mailed in December to these voters. To change your voter preferences, contact the county Registrar of Voters office before Feb. 18.

Now, that’s not too confusing is it? 

There will be many other different versions of March 3 ballots in Sonoma County, due to local school bond and other issues on the consolidated ballot. All county voters will get to vote on two very critical sales tax issues. Measure G is asking voters to support a half-cent sales tax increase to fund countywide fire protection services. Measure I will ask voters to extend the half-cent sales tax originally approved in 2008 to support the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train. (We will report on these two countywide tax issues in future editions.)

There are three district elections for county supervisor, but only one is a real contest. Incumbents Susan Gorin in the First District and Lynda Hopkins, in the Fifth District have only token opposition standing between them and another four-year term. Incumbent Shirley Zane of the Third District (Santa Rosa) is being challenged by former Santa Rosa mayor Chris Coursey in a race that will prove very expensive, contentious and probably close. County government and policy is always determined by three votes on the five-member board of supervisors. So who gets elected to these seats can make a difference beyond the specific local district.

You would think the most certain race on the March 3 ballot would be the Republican presidential primary. Is anybody even registered to run against Donald Trump? You might be surprised to know he has six challengers. We predict a very low turnout among Republican voters, all the same.

 -Rollie Atkinson 

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