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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » CA's Proposition 14 (Top Two Primaries Act)

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Author Topic: CA's Proposition 14 (Top Two Primaries Act)
Member # 6523

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I wasn't aware that this Proposition had passed and will apparently affect the next election cycle in California.

Essentially, California will have one open primary with the top two candidates having a run off. So effectively, there will be no Party primaries.


Instead of allowing each political party to hold a primary election open to just its members to determine its candidate for the general election, Proposition 14 would create a single primary ballot that would be identical for all voters.

All candidates running in the primary election, regardless of their political party preference, would appear on that ballot. The two candidates with the most votes would then qualify for the general election, regardless of which party they identify with (if any).

Proposition 14 would change the way that elections are conducted for all statewide offices as well as for United States Senators and members of the United States House of Representatives. Proposition 14 would not affect the election of President and Vice-President of the United States, local offices, or non-partisan offices such as judges and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

I'm not sure what the results of this will be, but I'm interested in seeing the results. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have had a lock on the current election system for far too long.

The author of the legislation was previously a CA legislator.

Steve Peace knows about the consequences of partisan politics.

As a Democrat in the California Legislature in the late ’80s, he voted one time too many with Republicans and paid the price. Party leaders stripped him of committee posts, cut his staff budget, and banished him to a smaller office. They even took away his front-row parking space.

Now Peace has a shot at vengeance, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its July 12 issue. On June 8, Californians approved a ballot measure written by constitutional lawyers he hired to start a revolution in the nation’s most-populous state.

“We have two political parties that are becoming narrower and narrower,” Peace said. “Today, if you behave like a kook, you get rewarded.”

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Member # 2638

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This will only increase the lock not loosen it- other parties that might have been able to get themselves on the final ballot by getting the baseline signatures and such will now be weeded out in the primary round, at times in favor of a final ballot with two of the same party on it.

When someone picks up score or at least approval voting, we'll have a much better chance of seeing some interesting results by removing the need to worry about "wasting" a vote on an apparently weaker candidate.

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Member # 1936

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It won't even stop primaries from happening. Political parties will still endorse their preferred candidates, and they'll decide who to endorse however the hell they damn well feel like.

So while this'll change the way general elections are ran (instead of first past the post it's a run-off between the first two past the post), but it'll do precisely squat to change how parties decide which candidates to field in the first place.

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Member # 2727

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I like the idea, but am happy to let a different state try it out first. (And really, how bad could it be? Is it going to make CA any more messed up?) I see 2 potential benefits:

1: Everyone can vote in primaries. In some states (I think it varies from state to state, and I have no idea how CA worked before) only registered members of a party can vote in a primary. As I'm not registered with either major party, I don't get to participate in primaries.

2. If, for example, I were registered with the republicans, but there was a democrat that I would prefer for one race, I can't do anything to help him/her to get through the primaries. Couldn't this help some of the more moderate candidates get through primaries who are currently losing to the extremists on either end? Maybe it can also eliminate some of the crazy politicking where candidates run all the way to the edges to secure the primary and then spend the rest of the campaign trying to convince people that they are very moderate to with the general election. The result of that is that by the time election day rolls around, I'm often not sure where a candidate stands on any issue anymore.

In many cases this new way of doing things wouldn't change anything. Each major party will pick 'their guy' and they will coast through to the final election. But in some instances there are very tight primaries decided by a few thousand votes and this process could encourage a few more people to participate in primaries and let them choose from the whole range of options.

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Wayward Son
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As usual, Wikipedia has an interesting article on open primaries.

According to the article, the correct term is a "non-partisan blanket primary," where all candidates are on every ballot, so anyone can vote for anyone in any party. (Open primaries make you choose a single party's ballot--limiting you to only their candidates--but you do not have to belong to that party.)

Washington has had this type of primary since 2008, and Louisiana for state and local elections since 1976. California now will provide open ballots for everything except Presidential primaries.

I was pretty much torn over this measure when it came up in the last election. On the one hand, it could keep the Democratic and Republican extremists from dictating the candidate. On the other hand, it could dilute the candidate so much that he doesn't really represent the party's values. It basically moves the final election to the primary.

It does have the benefit of making everyone choose between two candidates, though. While Green Party members, for instance, would still get to vote for a Ralph Nader in the primaries, they would also still get to choose between Al Gore and George Bush in the general election. (By analogy, of course, since this doesn't apply to Presidential elections.) This means you can still be loyal to your 3rd-Party candidate and still vote against the guy fartherest from your position.

OTOH, would the Green Party guys bother to vote in the General Election if their guy isn't on the ballot?

It will be interesting to see how this will play out.

I doubt it will do much to solve the State's problems, though, since I've pretty much come to the conclusion that it is caused by the 2/3 majority requirement for budgets to pass the Legislature.

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