The legal battle surrounding California’s controversial Top Two Primary has reached an influential federal appeals court.
This afternoon, a federal trial court refused to put California’s controversial new election regime on hold. In response, Plaintiffs Michael Chamness, Daniel Frederick, and Rich Wilson immediately asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the lower court’s decision.
Earlier, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a key ruling: it allowed in critical evidence that directly challenges the legality of the Top Two Primary.
Last summer, Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office publicly stated that the Top Two Primary law would (a) trick candidates into believing they could run as write-in candidates, (b) trick voters into believing they could cast a write-in vote that would be counted, and (c) harm minor-party candidates by banning them from stating on the ballot that they are “Independent”:
Since … SB 6 precludes [write-in] votes from being counted, it makes no sense to give candidates the illusion that they can run as a write-in or give voters the illusion that they can write in a candidate’s name and have it counted. Making these conforming changes is only controversial because there is a lawsuit on this issue that essentially states “SB 6 says don’t count the votes, so it’s misleading to let people think they can write in a candidate’s name and have it counted.”
Proposition 14′s Top Two Primary was the brainchild of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado.
To date, the Top Two Primary law has disenfranchised write-in voters in two straight elections: the May 3, 2011 election for Assembly District 4 and the July 12, 2011 election for Congressional District 36.
Last month, the lower court also refused to allow 2012 Tea Party candidate Julius Galacki to challenge the Top Two Primary law, even though it will force him to falsely state on the ballot that he has “No Party Preference”. In order to bring his constitutional challenge, Mr. Galacki had switched his voter registration from the Democratic Party to the Tea Party. Mr. Galacki has filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit.