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Voters Often Confuse 'American Independent' With 'Independent' Party

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Five hundred and forty-six delegates are at stake in the California Democratic presidential primary on June 7. A voter can cast a ballot only if he or she is a registered Democrat or Independent. Sherree Worrell, who owns a business in Auburn, Calif., thought she was.

SHERREE WORRELL: About a month and a half ago, a news article came out shaming celebrities who claimed to be independents, but were actually members of the American Independent Party. And I thought, oh, I wonder if that's me, too.

SIMON: It was. The article in Los Angeles Times reported that 73 percent of the people who belong to the American Independent Party in California think it's the same as being an independent. But the American Independent Party is an ultraconservative political party, all its own. How did Sherree Worrell become a member?

WORRELL: I have been a lifelong Democrat. And a couple years ago, before the governor election in California, I decided I wanted to change my party affiliation. So I went in to our county elections division and said, I'd like to change to the Independent Party. And somehow I ended up in the American Independent Party.

SIMON: The party was founded in 1968 and nominated George Wallace for president. It hasn't tried to hide what it stands for, but 32,000 party members have changed registration since the Los Angeles Times article was published last month.

WORRELL: I had mentioned it on my Facebook about a month or so ago that I goofed and that if you had changed your designation to independent, you might want to check to make sure you're actually a no-party preference. And I have a lot of friends in California who went, oh, my gosh, I did what you did. So I have been really vocal about making sure people know that the deadline to change your affiliation or even to register is Monday.

SIMON: Sherree Worrell has sorted out her registration, but she still hasn't decided if she'll vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. Hope she doesn't expect to find Hubert Humphrey on the ballot, too. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.