California: U.S. High Court Turns Aside Constitutional Challenge To California’s ‘Top Two’ Primary Election Law | MetNews

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the ‘Top Two’ primary system approved by California voters in 2010 as Proposition 14. The justices, without comment, denied certiorari in Rubin v. Padilla, 233 Cal.App.4th 1128. The Green, Libertarian, and Peace and Freedom parties challenged the law in Alameda Superior Court, arguing that because only the top two vote-getters in the primary—regardless of party—advance to the general election, smaller parties are normally denied the right of participation in the final contest. In 2012, for example, only three such candidates appeared on general election ballots out of more than 150 contests. The system, the plaintiffs argued, deprives them of equal protection and associational and voting rights under the Constitution, since their candidates will nearly always finish lower than second, even though they meet the state’s definition of a qualified party and often get at least a few percent of the vote. Supporters of the top-two, or “open,” primary—including former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who shepherded the measure through the Legislature—dismissed those arguments and intervened in the litigation.

California: Has ‘top two’ primary system reduced the state’s dysfunction? | San Diego

California’s political system has long been the focus of tinkerers who want to make it more responsive to the voters. This fixation goes back at least to the Progressive Era, when Gov. Hiram Johnson helped usher in reforms that are still the subject of debate today — the initiative, recall and referendum. The goal, of course, was to give the voting public — rather than special interests and party bosses — a greater say in how the state is governed. One of the more significant recent California electoral reforms to attempt this is the “top two” primary, which was approved by voters (Proposition 14) in 2010 and first implemented in a 2011 special election. Previously, for most races the parties nominated their candidates in a primary election, and then the winners — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, etc. — would face off against each other in the November general election.

Utah: Future Uncertain for Fix to Count My Vote Compromise | Utah Policy

A bill that could throw a party candidates’ nomination back to delegates passed the Utah House Monday night, but its future in the Senate is unclear. Fifteen GOP House members who voted for the SB54 compromise bill last year went against the wishes of the Count My Vote leaders and supported an amended HB313. The bill passed 39-34, with two House members absent from the vote. In the meantime, UtahPolicy is told by Utah Republican Party Chairman  James Evans that he would be willing to accept even further amendments to HB313 to make it more acceptable to legislators. Evans met with GOP senators Tuesday afternoon in a closed caucus. (The Senate Republicans always hold closed caucuses.)

Editorials: Would A ‘Top-2’ Primary Election Help Reduce Gridlock? | Greg Giroux/Bloomberg

Some ideas offered to curb the partisan gridlock that envelops Congress involve changing how voters select the candidates who appear on the November general-election ballots. One proposal is to eliminate separate party primaries–registered Democrats voting for Democrats, and registered Republicans voting for Republicans—and adopt a so-called “Top-2” primary, under which candidates of all partisan stripes would run on a single ballot. Then the top two vote-getters in the primary would advance to the November election, regardless of their party preference. This system, the idea goes, would produce less ideologically rigid representatives because the entire electorate would be eligible to participate, and candidates would have an incentive to reach out to a larger swath of voters. It might also increase voter participation. There’s very limited evidence to determine its rate of success or failure.

Oregon: Voters reject change to state’s “top-two” primary system | Associated Press

Oregon voters on Tuesday rejected a big change to the state’s primary election system. They voted down Measure 90, a proposal to scrap Oregon’s current primary-election system in favor of a “top-two” format. Currently, only Democrats vote in the Democratic primary, and only Republicans vote in the Republican primary. In a top-two system, all primary candidates are on single ballot, and all registered voters can participate. The top two vote-getters then advance to the general election, even if they are from the same party.

Voting Blogs: Welcome to the Jungle: Senate Majority May Come Down to Louisiana | State of Elections

Pundits have framed this year’s election cycle as having the potential to shift control of the United States Senate from Democrats to Republicans—and given the sheer number of close races across the country, nearly every seat in serious contention has the makings of being the deciding race. Due to Louisiana’s unusual election laws, however, the chattering class might not know which way the pendulum will swing until long after Election Day on November 4th. Louisiana’s Senate race is, by all accounts, extremely close: both Republican and Democratic party committees (as well as outside superPACs) have poured money into the state in recent weeks. Incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has struggled to distance herself from an unpopular President, is facing Republican challenger Bill Cassidy, who some have characterized as “too boring” for a state with a history of colorful political characters. Louisiana’s election laws are atypical in that they provide for a non-partisan “jungle primary” on November 4th—the general election day for the rest of the country—with the general election following a month later, if necessary, on December 6th.

Editorials: Adopt the Open Primary | Sen. Charles Schumer/New York Times

Polarization and partisanship are a plague on American politics. Political scientists have found that the two parties have each grown more ideologically homogeneous since the 1970s. The Senate hasn’t been so polarized since Reconstruction; the House has not been so divided since around 1900. As measured by laws passed, the current Congress is on track to be among the least productive in our republic’s history. How did this happen? One of the main causes has not gotten enough attention: the party primary system. … We need a national movement to adopt the “top-two” primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.