Last month, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California published a report assessing the early effects of California’s top-two primary system, first implemented two years ago. “To the surprise of many,” it said, “turnout was the second-lowest on record.” Time to update that report: In the top-two primary’s second showing, turnout was the lowest on record. Based on Election Day returns, statewide turnout on Tuesday was 17.8 percent. That number will go up some, perhaps 6 or 7 points, after all the late-arriving mail-in ballots are counted and the provisional ballots sorted out, but the bottom line will still be dismal. In all likelihood, turnout will fall below the previous low of 28.2 percent. And then it can be reported that the first two experiments with the top-two primary resulted in the lowest and third-lowest voter turnouts on record. The problem is, it’s not an experiment. It’s written into the California Constitution and cannot be changed without another vote of the people. It’s time to start having that discussion.
The system was supposed to engage independent voters in the process so that voters nominated the candidates rather than political parties. But independent voters have not become engaged.
It was supposed to make it possible for independent candidates to compete in primaries. That hasn’t happened. In the first statewide test on Tuesday, independent Dan Schnur — a well-connected insider who won the endorsement of several major newspapers — waged a campaign for secretary of state under favorable conditions.
With four Democrats, two Republicans and a Green Party candidate also on the ballot, there was an opportunity for partisans to split their votes and for an independent to emerge.
How did that work out?
Schnur finished fourth, behind a state senator who dropped out of the race after being indicted on charges of political corruption and participation in a murder-for-hire scheme
Full Article: OPINION: State’s top-two primary a failure.