California Voters Pass Top-Two, Defeat Public Funding

Here is a link to California election returns. Proposition 14, the top-two ballot measure, has 59.5% “Yes”. Proposition 15, to repeal the state law that bans public funding, is losing with 43.3%.

California now has the most restrictive general election ballot access in the nation. Even Georgia always has three candidates on the November ballot for statewide office. Even Oklahoma typically has three candidates on the November ballot for Congress, as does North Carolina.

Even Washington state will sometimes count write-ins. California now has a general election ballot (for partisan office other than President) that compares with Ohio’s general election ballot between 1949 and 1967…no one on the November ballot but Democrats and Republicans, no write-ins counted. We know top-two works this way because that is how it worked in Washington state in 2008. I will not be voting in midterm general elections in California any longer, if Proposition 14 is upheld, and I suspect thousands of other Californians feel the same way.


California Voters Pass Top-Two, Defeat Public Funding — 37 Comments

  1. “I will not be voting in midterm general elections in California any longer, if Proposition 14 is upheld, and I suspect thousands of other Californians feel the same way.”

    Do you think it would be better to not vote or to ask for a ballot and submit it without voting for any of the top two?

  2. I’m very sorry to hear about this Richard. Why do you think it passed with such large percentage?

  3. There’s a saying that goes, “Tyranny is better organized than liberty.”

    The forces behind Proposition 14 were far better organized and raised far more money than those who opposed Proposition 14.

    Now the question is, are we going to take this lying down, or are we going to rise up and do something about this?

    Law suits need to be filed. However, we can’t just rely on that. We ought to file an initiative to overturn Proposition 14. It is going to take a lot or money to get it on the ballot and get it passed. We need to raise several million dollars. It is not going to be easy, but it can be done.

  4. #1: I predict there will be federal litigation against Prop. 14. This measure is almost certainly unconstitutional for congressional elections.

    I wonder how many California voters knew about the pending federal litigation against the Washington state “top two.”

    Fox News Channel reported that California would be the second state with a “top two,” after Washington. I guess Louisiana doesn’t count.

  5. Free elections are over in California. Third parties, this is the death you richly deserve for failing to get your acts together and letting the egos of your petty party bosses drive away the people who should have been on your side.

  6. Re Steve Rankin: I’d say FNC’s distinction comes in that the Louisiana primary can end in one round if someone gets a majority, unlike what Prop 14 proposes (if I read the measure correctly). The term my poli-sci professor used for the Louisiana system (I live and attend school in that state, in fact) was “nonpartisan blanket primary” – but for the party names on the ballot and the lack of a prohibition of partisan activity, it’s structurally the same as a nonpartisan elections one sees in some cities (the recent mayoral elections in Houston and Atlanta, for example).

  7. Rather than try and spend the money to reverse this I would spend the money on a statewide campaign to get the voters to understand that both the R’s and D’s are the ones that got Kalifornia into this mess in the first place and neither one of them deserves their vote.
    Convince them to vote neither r or d but only Libertarian. As soon as L starts being one of the two on the ballot they’ll go back to the old way.

  8. #11: If you’ll click on “my take” in my comment #9 above, you’ll see that, in the footnote, I distinguish between Washington/California and Louisiana. LA’s system is a “top two” when there’s a runoff, but it’s a “top one” when one candidate gets 50%-plus.

    I know that Jeffrey Sadow at LSU-Shreveport calls the LA system a blanket primary. In California Democratic Party v. Jones, Justice Scalia wrote about the “nonpartisan blanket primary.”

    Another good name for it is “jungle ballot” (I refuse to call an election consisting of independents and candidates from multiple parties a “primary”).

    Simply adding party labels to a nonpartisan ballot does not make it a partisan election.

    I agree with Justice Stevens that the “top two” is a general election with a runoff. The only difference between the first round of the “top two” and other general elections is that there has not been a nominating event to winnow the field of candidates.

  9. When the vote went under 55%, we know it was bought and paid for. That is the only way this scam of an election reform passed, it was bought. It isn’t over, lawsuit or no lawsuit, it isn’t over. This election was bought and everyone needs to know that. They’ll either know sooner if we educate them or later when this reform completely fails, but they will always know this Prop. 14 was bought and did not win on its merits.

  10. Prop. 14 seems to have done better among mail-in votes than in-person votes, according to Jim Riley. The early returns were dumps from the larger counties, and those went 60-40.

    The percentage has gradually been dropping since.

  11. This is chilling.

    So after the first year this is in effect, when there are lots of candidates on the ballot, will this be followed by pressure in the legislature for tougher ballot access to declutter it?

  12. Since the same Logan Act violating election machine that rigged the Prop 14 election in California will tear will lead to a another real political battle on the streets of LA — once the “top two” major political clubs are banned from all election ballots for 5 (five) years after Obama is finally exposed and removed from POTUS/CINC office — i.e. after being exposed as not being even a US citizen let alone not a natural born citizen of the US.

  13. You fought the good fight on this one, Richard. Take
    consolation in that.

  14. For congressional elections, it appears that the Proposition violates Article I of the United States Constitution, which requires that electoral regulation flow from the state “Legislature.” Justice Stevens’s dissenting opinion in Jones v. California Democratic Party (2000) discusses this in the context of California’s popular initiative.

  15. What a blow to democracy. A two party system is only one party more than a totalitarian state.
    Too close for comfort.
    California voters should be ashamed of their rejection of one of the most important, basic fundamentals of democracy.

  16. THE VOTERS SPOKE!! This is the way elections work….if you lose you lose…The majority wins in this case…

  17. > “The majority wins in this case…”

    I’m sure “the majority” stayed home, completely oblivious, actually.

  18. The unintended consequences of this could be ridiculous. What if the top 2 candidates together get far less than 50% of the vote? (Remember the gubernatorial recall election, with 100+ candidates?) What if two Democrats make it to the general election? It could easily happen if there are 2 major Democratic contenders and 3 major Republicans in the primary. Voters are not going to be happy once the full impact of this sinks in.

  19. what if…what if what if…..You can’t please ALL the people all the time….majority wins…if others choose not to vote they get what they get….this is a democracy and the Voters voted….change is good

  20. NO primaries are needed.

    P.R. and App.V. = REAL reforms
    Nominations and elections for PUBLIC offices by PUBLIC Electors is PUBLIC business — regardless of any and all JUNK opinions by the appointed party hack Supremes.

  21. Write-in problem with Prop. 14 —

    14th Amdt, Sec. 2 is still part of the nearly dead U.S.a. Constitution — regardless of armies of MORON lawyers and judges unable to detect it since 1868.

    Such Sec. 2 was deemed MUCH, MUCH more important than Sec. 1 in the 1866 debates – for obvious reasons – it demands UNIVERSAL adult male suffrage – the *right to vote*.

    SUPER *radical* in 1866 — back when there were all sorts of restrictions – race, nationality, property owner, taxpayer, literacy tests, etc. etc. etc.

    Sorry females — until the 19th Amdt in 1920.


    Voters approve Prop. 14, ‘open primary’

    How many court cases coming from the usual suspects (Casablanca movie, 1942) ???

    Note the about 3.8 million primary voters of the about 17 million registered in CA.

    One more reason to ABOLISH primaries.

    P.R. and App.V.

  23. “….this is a democracy and the Voters voted….change is good”

    Not necessarily. You can’t improve without changing, but you can change without improving.

  24. #22 and #25: Suppose that 51% voted to repeal the Bill of Rights. Would you then also say, “THE VOTERS SPOKE!!”??

    The vote on Prop. 14 is another example of why the Founding Fathers were so distrustful of raw, direct democracy. Unlike you, ‘sour grapes,’ they did not consider the voice of 50%-plus to necessarily be the Voice of God.

    Direct democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

  25. #19: As you may know, there’s a line of rulings from the US Supreme Court on ballot access for independents and small parties. The upshot of these decisions is that any candidate for Congress who has met a prior vote test of 5 percent is entitled to be on the November ballot.

    Prop. 14, however, sets a threshold of 25 percent for a candidate to be on the November ballot.

    It’s incredible that California voters have purposely limited themselves to just two choices in the final, deciding election.

  26. #19 I think you are misreading the distinction made by the US Supreme Court has made between the legislative process and the legislature as a body (see Hawke v Smith and Davis v. Hildebrant.).

    Justice Stevens couldn’t even get Justice Ginsberg to join Part II of his dissent in California Democratic Party v. Jones. When he raised a comparable concern in his dissent in Tashjian, the majority opinion felt it had to address the issue since it had been ruled on by the lower courts. But then Justice Marshall wrote in circles, probably because the court wanted to get to the juicier political association issues. You can see the same sort of skirting the procedural details specified by the Constitution in Oregon v Mitchell (with regard to 18 year old vote) and Anderson v Celebrezze so that they can apply the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment.

    You may also may be missing a key aspect of Steven’s dissent in Jones. The blanket primary had been approved as an initiative statute. The California Constitution has specific provisions that restrict subsequent legislative modification of initiated statutes. So not only was the legislature not prescribing the manner of congressional elections, they were prohibited from amending certain aspects of the process.

    Proposition 14 is simply an amendment to the State Constitution providing the general procedure for electing state officials and the legislature, and additionally Congress. It would be absurd for a State constitution to not set out the state officials, their powers, relationships, and how they are chosen. These are the essential elements of a constitution.

    The US Constitution requires that the electors for the (larger house of the) legislature to also be the electors for Congress. Do you think the founders didn’t intend for Representatives to be elected in a manner totally different from legislators?

    And besides, even if the People of California do not have a sovereign right to determine the manner in which congressmen are elected, the California legislature can simply legislate that congressmen are to be elected in a manner which is the same as the manner by which the governor and legislature are elected.

    California adopted the direct primary in 1907 as a constitutional amendment. Has the election of congressmen: (1) been on shaky ground ever since; (2) a proper exercise of ratification of a constitutional amendment by the People; or (3) OK because the legislature ever since has been exercising its free will in making the election of congressmen identical to what it would have been if the constitution could dictate that it direct primaries be used.

  27. #24 So you’re saying what would happen in a case like

    Aceves 18.8%
    Torlakson 18.0%
    Romero 17.2%
    Gutierrez 8.9%
    McMicken 7.3%
    Blake 7.1%
    Lenning 6.2%
    Nusbaum 5.1%
    Deligianni 4.9%
    Martin 2.9%
    Williams 2.9%
    Sheikh-Noor 0.7%

    Aceves and Torlakson would advance to the general election.

  28. Washington had more candidates per legislative race in November 2008 than did neighboring Oregon.

  29. # 32. You can look at my recent article in the Dartmouth Law Journal (2010) for a fuller explanation of why California’s initiative does not satisfy the “Legislature” requirement in Articles I and II of the United States Constitution. It provides full treatment to the Hawke, Davis and Jones cases, as well as the two Bush v. Gore decisions (which also rely in part on the “Legislature” requirement of Article II). I also discuss the Framers’ intent behind distinguishing “Legislature” from “State.” The latter would incorporate state constitutions. The former does not necessarily do so.

  30. When did the voter initiative come along — about 1898 in Oregon ??? (upheld by SCOTUS in about 1912) — a mere 100 plus years after the 1787 U.S.A. Constitution.

    The Congress and ALL 50 State legislatures are ANTI-Democracy indirect minority rule gerrymander oligarchies — regardless of all brain dead folks who give ANY respect to *the system*.

    REAL Democracy NOW — regardless of the armies of political science MORONS who never heard about monarchy-oligarchy killers like Stalin, Hitler, Saddam, etc. etc.

    P.R. and App.V. — to END the ROT — i.e. to save Civilization from the gerrymander MORON incumbents.

  31. California is afraid of the Tea Party. Seems the goons in Sacramento fear getting dumped by a third party. Corruption in California will be it’s downfall. They can’t stop spending, borrowing, cheating tax payers, driving off business, catering to special interest groups, taxing, and padding pensions for themselves. This is a formula for failure, but so many are on the take no one is listening. The looters and moochers will pay when the producers either go on strike or vote with their feet. Better learn how to get on a government program if you decide to stay, no one with ANY wealth will survive. When the feds are done printing money and sending it to California, the dollar will be worth nothing. So, hang on gang as the fun is just starting. The second fall of the Roman Empire is upon us.

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