In one sense this makes no difference at all – Donald Trump must release his tax returns to appear on the primary ballot paper in California. In another it does make a difference – revealing to all who were too unobservant to note it that the primary rules in the varied states are subject to gross, gross, political interference.
That’s not quite how matters are supposed to be in a democracy but that’s how they are:
President Trump will be ineligible for California’s primary ballot next year unless he discloses his tax returns under a state law that immediately took effect Tuesday, an unprecedented mandate that is almost certain to spark a high-profile court fight and might encourage other states to adopt their own unconventional rules for presidential candidates.
Note what California can’t do – keep Trump off the ballot itself. They can fiddle with the primary rules but not the actual election one.
This therefore is irrelevant:
While Trump is unlikely to pick up California’s electoral college votes regardless of whether he is on the ballot, the push underscores efforts by Democrats to obtain information about his finances.
It’s the ballot for the primary which California laws change, not those for the Federal election itself.
However, what this does show is as above – the naked political party interest which accompanies state election law. The usual diagnosis is that the two major parties are as bad as each other in jointly insisting that no one other than the two major parties can ever be allowed to have a real chance. Thus all the varied rules about how many signatures are required and all that. To keep the rabble out of elections and to make sure that only the Red and Blue establishments get a look in.
What is different here is the manner in which state law is being so nakedly written to favour just the one of those two establishment wings. This isn’t going to work out well. Because once California changes the rules to keep The Donald out then what’s to stop some nice Red state from making sure Democrats can never really get anywhere? Say, that no one taking union money can be on the ballot? Sure, that’s extreme and weird and yet, well, demanding tax returns is too, right? And most especially demanding tax returns when only one politician isn’t voluntarily releasing them. It’s naked partisanship – something that doesn’t work well in the long term when writing electoral law.