top two primary

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California: Millions of California voters saw same-party races on November’s ballot and left the space blank | Los Angeles Times

As November’s election results become clear, so does a new California conundrum: Voters may like the top-two primary — which doesn’t guarantee any political party a spot on the fall ballot — but a lot of them skipped last month’s contests in which the only choices were candidates with the same party affiliation. It was not a lack of enthusiasm for the election. The percentage of registered voters who turned out was the highest for a regular gubernatorial election since 1982. Final results, expected later this week, will show about 12.7 million ballots cast statewide. But some races were left blank, in what elections officials call an “under-vote.” The reasons vary — some voters get confused or forget, and others simply don’t like either of the two contenders. Read More

Editorials: California’s open primaries are a cautionary tale about political reform | Dan Balz/The Washington Post

At a time of broken politics and polarization, the impulse to seek out reforms to the political process is understandable. California, which will hold important primary elections on Tuesday, offers a cautionary tale about how good intentions alone are not enough. Eight years ago, California voters approved a ballot initiative establishing a new open primary system. The new system called for primary contests in which all candidates from all parties would be listed on the same ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of party, would advance to the November election. Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) hailed the initiative’s passage as a vehicle that would change the political complexion of the state legislature and the congressional delegation. He and other proponents claimed that it would lead to the nomination and ultimately the election of candidates who were more moderate — center-left and center-right, rather than far left and far right. Read More

Editorials: California’s ‘jungle primary’ isn’t working. We need election reform 2.0 | Andrew Gumbel/Los Angeles Times

As California hurtles toward its state primary June 5, it is obvious there’s a problem. Its open primary system — which sends the top two vote-getters to the general election, regardless of party affiliation — is not working as intended and risks throwing the midterm election into acrimony and confusion. This system is called a “jungle primary” for a reason: It is brutal and unpredictable. In three high-profile House races, there are so many candidates from the two major parties eating into one another’s support that the election results may end up owing more to chance than any discernible will of the people. Polls show that Democrats have an excellent chance of capturing the Southern Californian seats being vacated by Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Darrell Issa (R-Isla Vista) and have a good shot at unseating Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach). These are all bona fide swing districts that surely deserve an up-and-down contest between a Republican and a Democrat in November. Read More

South Dakota: ‘Top two’ primary backers fail to gather enough support | The Argus-Press

A group trying to bring a “top two” primary system to South Dakota didn’t collect enough valid signatures to get the issue onto the November ballot, the state’s chief elections official said Friday. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs’ office said in a statement that a random sampling of signatures collected by Open Primaries South Dakota found that the campaign submitted about 25,500 valid signatures, not the nearly 28,000 needed for the proposed constitutional amendment to go to voters. The rejection could be challenged in court. The group’s treasurer, De Knudson, said she’s contacted the group’s attorney but that a decision hasn’t been made on whether to challenge the decision. Read More

Florida: Top two election system clears constitution panel | Orlando Sentinel

An effort to let voters decide if they want open primary elections advanced Friday, but moving to such a “top-two” system drew questions from members of the state Constitution Revision Commission. Commission member Bill Schifino, a Tampa attorney, initially proposed allowing unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in Republican or Democratic primaries. But Schifino altered the proposal to put all candidates seeking the same office — if there are more than two candidates — into a single primary regardless of party affiliation. The top two vote-getters would run in the general election. That system, already in use by California, Nebraska and Washington, would also allow state parties to list on the ballot the candidate they “endorse.” Read More

California: In California, open primaries took the ‘politics’ out of politics | The Hill

Last month, the California legislature did something unheard of — by Washington, D.C., standards. They came together across party lines to amend and extend sweeping cap and trade emissions legislation. Business, agriculture, labor and environmentalists all had a seat at the table. By 2030, California’s population is expected to grow by five million people, yet our greenhouse gas emissions will shrink to 40 percent below 1990 levels. In this era of cynicism and gridlock, how is this possible? The answer may surprise you. It’s not because California is a “blue” state. If that were the reason, New York would be leading the country in legislative innovation, not state house scandals and indictments. Seven years ago, Californians overhauled the political system so that voters have more choices and politicians are incentivized to cooperate and innovate, not grandstand and polemicize. Read More

California: The political parties would like voters to kill top-two primary system in 2018 | Los Angeles Times

Political parties and open primaries are the electoral equivalent of oil and water. They may coexist, but they don’t mix. So it’s hardly surprising that neither California’s dominant Democrats nor its fading Republicans have ever really embraced Proposition 14, the sweeping ballot measure that abolished partisan primaries six years ago. Some, in fact, say they’ve seen enough. It’s time to scrap it. “If we don’t get California straightened out for every party, at least give them some kind of chance, then why the hell are we involved in politics at all?” asks Tom Palzer, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga. Read More

California: Revamped primaries changed California politics, but not like everyone thought | Los Angeles Times

The plea made to California voters to dilute the power of political parties was so insistent that it was written completely in capital letters in the June 2010 statewide voter guide. “PARTISANSHIP IS RUNNING OUR STATE INTO THE GROUND,” screamed the ballot argument in favor of Proposition 14, a broad change voters ultimately approved in the rules governing candidate primary elections. Its premise was simple: Scrap party-based primaries in statewide, congressional and legislative elections. Put all candidates on a single ballot with the two top vote-getters moving to November. If they were from the same party, so be it. Proposition 14’s supporters believed the change would empower centrists, candidates and voters alike. The ballot guide promised these newly elected politicians would be “more practical individuals who can work together for the common good.” California has now conducted 469 regularly scheduled races under the top-two primary — elections for governor, Congress and every seat in the Legislature. The bottom line: changes, yes, but likely only on the margins. Read More

California: Why Is the Most Groundbreaking Senate Race Ever So Uninspiring? | Politico

The race to succeed retiring Senator Barbara Boxer is unlike anything American politics has seen. It’s California’s first fight for an open Senate seat in 24 years, and it is being waged between two Democratic women of color, state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez. The election of either would be a historic first: Harris would be the first biracial woman and first Indian-American woman in the U.S. Senate; Sanchez would be the first Latina. But there’s another way in which it’s groundbreaking: It’s a high-profile, open-seat Senate election without a Republican on the ballot. The Harris-Sanchez showdown could offer a glimpse into the future of national politics, not just because of who’s running but because of the radical way the whole race was structured. It’s the largest experiment ever for a new kind of election—California’s so-called jungle primary, in which the top two vote-getters go against each other in the general election, regardless of party—and it is exposing that model’s unexpected shortcomings. Read More

Editorials: Top-two reform tilts California toward one-party rule | Larry N. Gerston/Los Angeles Times

Since California’s Proposition 14 passed in 2010, all partisan candidates — except those running for president — appear on the same primary ballot, regardless of party. Then the two leading contenders face off in the general election. Like so many other electoral reforms in the state, this top-two primary system isn’t shaking out quite as intended. Reformers promised more moderate candidates and more competitive races. Instead we’ve got something that looks like one-party rule. The race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is exhibit A. State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez were the survivors of a free-for-all nominating contest with 34 candidates, including Democrats, Republicans and a litany of minor party and independent candidates. But in deep blue California, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than a 3 to 2 margin, it should be no surprise that Democrats Harris and Sanchez prevailed. Read More