California Bill to Increase the Number of One-Candidate Congressonal and Legislative Elections

California Assemblymember Jeff Gorell (R-Thousand Oaks) has introduced AB 141, which would increase the number of congressional and state legislative elections with only one candidate, instead of two, on the November ballot.

Current law says the top two vote-getters, for congress and state partisan office, appear on the November ballot. But AB 141 would say that a write-in candidate in the June primary could not appear on the November ballot, even if he or she places second in June, unless the candidate received a number of write-ins equal to 1% of the total vote cast for that office in the last general election.

If this law had been in effect in November 2012, there would have been eight U.S. House or state legislative races with only one person on the ballot in November (the November ballot doesn’t contain write-in space). In reality, in 2012, there were eight races in which only one person filed to be on the primary ballot, but in six of those races, a write-in filed in the primary, and appeared on the November ballot. None of the June write-in candidates came close to polling as much as 1% of the vote cast in November 2010, so if this bill had been in effect, all eight races would have had only one person on the November ballot.

The only minor party members who appeared on the California November ballot for state legislature were three Peace & Freedom Party members who had filed as primary write-ins in these races. Obviously when only one person is on the June ballot, it’s easy for a write-in candidate in June to place second, and they did so.

The Gorell bill appears to violate the California Constitution, which says, “The top two candidates, as determined by the voters in an open primary, shall advance to a general election.” Thanks to Dave Kadlecek for this news.


California Bill to Increase the Number of One-Candidate Congressonal and Legislative Elections — No Comments

  1. It’s stupid.

    Actually, it says that a candidate must receive 1% of the vote cast for the office at the previous general election.

    There were three write-in candidates who did receive more than 1% of the primary vote (Frank Miranda and Gary Clift in SD-3, James Bennett AD-32). Miranda and Bennett were on the November ballot and received around 1/3 of the total vote. But based on the votes cast in November 2012, neither would have qualified.

    The 6 candidates who faced a challenger who qualified as a write-in candidate were all Democrats. Does Jeff Gorrell think that Karen Bass or Loni Hancock need some sort of protection from Republican or other challengers?

    The old 1% provision had some logic behind it. Under California’s version of con-fusion, candidates could run for the nomination of parties with which they were not registered, but only as a write-in candidate. A Republican could conceivably be the nominee of the Peace & Freedom Party.

    Or rather than gathering gazillions of signatures to run as an independent, a DTS candidate could have run in the American Independent primary as a write-in and become its nominee with a single vote, except for the 1% provision.

    But this makes no sense for a voter-nominated office. A write-in candidate has to gather the same number of signatures as an on-ballot candidate. No write-in candidate is going to finish 2nd unless there is only one on-ballot candidate, or a candidate missed the filing deadline and then dumped a lot of cash into a campaign to defeat all but one of the candidates who actually is on the ballot. But the provision would have no effect on such a candidate. If he can defeat an on-ballot candidate, he is going to have no problem meeting the 1% test. So all that would happen is to knock a few random candidates off the general election ballot.

  2. #2, thank you very much. I amended the post. I appreciate your comment very much.

  3. And so we see the gradual revelation of the true intent of the “top-two” cabal: The elimination of free elections in America the the imposition of one-party rule with only two candidates from the single party and its single primary allowed … so,eventually only one candidate will appear in a majority of races …

    … and the frogs are slowly boiled to death as Jim Riley sings a lullabye of lies and the state turns up the fire under the pot …

  4. There were 8 races where only candidate filed to be on the ballot, in all instances a lone Democrat. Write-in candidates qualified as the second place candidate in 6 districts: AD-15, AD-31, SD-3, SD-9, SD-33, and CD-37. Only two races, AD-14 and AD-64, were uncontested at the general election.

    While one write-in candidate did qualify for 2nd place with 3 write-in votes, several had quite significant numbers.

    Frank Miranda received 2402 votes, 60 times as many as Jeff Gorrell needed to qualify to be on the ballot. Miranda himself had to gather the same 40 signatures (the only advantage he had was a later filing deadline and no filing fee). In the general election, Miranda received more votes than his opponent, Lois Wolk, had received in the primary.

    Gorrell’s bill is inexplicable, since in 2012 it would have only protected Democratic incumbents, and kept two reasonably credible Republican challengers off the general election ballot.

    Not only does it violate the California constitution provision about the Top 2 advancing, it violates the provision about a voter being able to vote for any candidate. If a vote for one candidate is treated differently than a vote for another candidate, then a voter is not truly able to vote for any candidate.

    It would also violate equal protection, since California has no rationale for treating write-in candidates who receive fewer than 1% of a previous general election vote total and finish second, and an on-ballot candidate who does the same.

    The 40 signatures required of write-in candidates is the modicum of support needed to become a candidate.

  5. There is no way to defend “top-two” Riley – it’s evil. The intent is evil. It is designed to create a one-party state. If adopted nationwide that will be the result. Legislators and state officials controlling both the state-controlled party and the government apparatus will gradually do as indicated in this article – move toward single nominees in addition to controlling the single primary of the single party.

    … Back to the US … back to the US … back to the USSR …

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