California Legislative Committee to Hear Bill that Alters Top-Two System

The California Assembly Elections Committee will hear ACA 10 and AB 1075 on Tuesday, April 23. The hearing starts at 1:30 p.m. ACA 10 and AB 1075 change the top-two system. They provide that if a candidate for partisan state office receives at least 60% of the total vote in the June primary, then that candidate is elected, and the office will not appear on the November ballot. The sponsor is Assemblymember Kristen Olsen (R-Modesto).

Here is the analysis of the ACA 10, prepared by the Committee’s staff. If the bill passes, then the voters would vote on it in June 2014.


California Legislative Committee to Hear Bill that Alters Top-Two System — No Comments

  1. “Top-two” is the power elite’s plan to end free elections in America. They’ll do anything, tell any lie, obfuscate, filibuster, misdirect, mislead and slowly, slowly, slowly – once they’ve got the evil, USSR-styled, one-party system in place, they will eliminate the chance for voters to participate and for candidates to run.

    Under “top-two” there is one-party with one primary and that one party selects the only candidates allowed to run in the election – only two – but they want to limit the choice to one, whenever possible, and pass on the actual election whenever possible. Only members and candidates of the single party can run and vote, so why bother with elections at all.

    These “top charlatans” of “top-two” would make Stalin proud.

  2. Wow, I thought California’s voting system couldn’t get any more messed up, but this is just revolting. 60% of the primary vote means you completely cancel your right to a general election for that seat? Third world countries are more democratic than that.

  3. Reminder – 40 gerrymander monsters in the CA State Senate – 80 gerrymander monsters in the CA Assembly.

    A mere 53 USA Reps now in CA for comparison.

    i.e. the CA Legislature now is one of THE worst powermad oligarchies EVER on Mother Earth.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  4. The Committee Staff Analysis has a couple of interesting points.

    Comments 2) – The last sentence says that candidates are permitted to have their party preference printed on the ballot. Richard – I thought this was true only for those whose party was “qualified”?

    Comments 3) – The last paragraph likely reveals why some want to change the law. It reports how it is possible for someone to have over 60% in a primary and then lose the general election. There math is good but they do not explain why. Obviously, there are many more voters in a general election (unless this bill passes and guts general elections)than a primary election. I might add that there is an awful lot of time betweern primaries and general elections. The over 60% in the primary candidate could have plenty of time to say or do something really stupid or criminal to turn off voters.

    This bill comes down to the fact that those that are “in” want to stay “in.”

  5. It would be better to first get Congress to change the election schedule:

    2 U.S.C. § 7

    (a) The Tuesday next after the 1st Monday in November, in every even numbered year, is established as the day for the election, in each of the States and Territories of the United States, of Representatives and Delegates to the Congress commencing on the 3d day of January next thereafter.
    (b) However, if a primary election is held within the 60 days immediately prior to the date in subsection (a), in which any voter may vote for any candidate,
    without regard to party affiliation of the voter or the candidate, and such primary election is the first election of the electoral process, the legislature of the State may provide for the election of a candidate who receives a majority of the vote in the primary election.

    Make any changes to the MOVE Act confirming that the system of conditional ranked ballots used in Louisiana and South Carolina is conforming, and California would realize that September would be a better time for its primary.

    California should also reform its petition and fee requirements. It is silly to base the filing fee on the salary of the office. Require a petition (say 1/10 of 1% of the votes cast at the previous gubernatorial election), and permit a filing fee to offset that valued at 10 minutes per signature at the California minimum wage.

    For statewide office, this would be 10,301 signatures or a fee of $13,734. A typical value for a US representative would be 195 signatures or $260.

    When amending the Constitution the provision about party elections should be removed. Simply require that a party permit party registrants to meaningfully participate in the selection of party officers. Division 7 of the Elections Code should be ripped out and replaced with general requirements for parties.

    The qualification standard for political parties should be greatly reduced, lets say 100 registrants. With a small number, it would be possible to switch to qualification by petition. If a petition were successful, the signatories would have their registration changed to that of the new party.

    Write-in party preference would be eliminated, and be changed to No Party Preference (after notifying the registrant). A dormant party status would be created. A list of existing registrations would be created, and any parties with 100 registrants would be given a dormant, but qualified status. This would permit a registrant to have his preference appear on the ballot. There would be a procedure to activate a dormant party. Any literal “Independent” registrations would be converted to “No Party Preference”.

    Thus all parties would be “qualified” since all voters would be registered with a qualified party or as having no party preference. If party registration fell below the threshold, the voter registration would be changed. A new party could only become qualified by petition.

    Qualified parties would be characterized as active or inactive (or dormant). Active parties would have to engage in certain minimum activities: have rules and bylaws; have officers who represent the party; have responsible financial reporting; have a biennial state convention. An inactive party could still be the object of a candidate’s preference.

    A candidate with No Party Preference should be offered his choice of appellation: No Party Preference, Independent, or Nonpartisan.

    Write-ins should be permitted in the general election, but candidates in the primary for any office, whether on-ballot or write-in, should bot be permitted to run as declared write-ins candidates. If no candidate receives 40% of the vote in the general election, a runoff would be held.

    A party whose registration was 1/10 of 1% of the total vote in the last presidential election (about 13,201 based on 2012) would be qualified to hold a presidential primary.

    To qualify for the general election presidential ballot, a candidate would need the support of 13,201 voters. Party registrants would be presumed to support the nominee of their party.

    So nominees of larger parties would be automatically qualified for the general election ballot. Nominees of smaller parties could qualify with a petition supplementing the presumed support of the party registrants. A party with 5,000 registrants would need another 8,201 signatures.

    Multiple candidates for a party could qualify if the 13,201 signatures on a petition are by party registrants. Other candidates could qualify as independents.

  6. #4 This bill comes down to the fact that those that are “in” want to stay “in.”

    The sponsor of the legislation had a two-candidate race where she easily defeated the Democratic challenger, 65-35 in the primary and 60-40 in the general election.

    In 2010, she won a 6-candidate Republican primary and was unopposed in the general election.

    Because of her particular circumstance she is aggrieved that she has to run in two elections.

  7. #4 The last paragraph likely reveals why some want to change the law. It reports how it is possible for someone to have over 60% in a primary and then lose the general election. There math is good but they do not explain why.

    There was a partisan differential in turnout in the June primary. Obama was not facing a challenger, and the Democrats did not want a Republican candidate challenger who might appeal to California voters. So they moved the presidential primary to June.

    Democratic-leaning groups like public-sector unions like partisan primaries because they can get out the vote for their candidates, and give them instructions on who to vote for. A random Democrat is less likely to vote, and also vote in a random fashion. Thus a small faction can control the primary. In the general election, then Democratic voters will vote for “the” Democrat.

    If the voters vote in the same way in the general election as in the primary, then when Democrats don’t vote in the primary, the Republican candidate in a Republican-Democratic primary will receive a higher percentage of the vote.

    The particular election that the analysis cited was 69-31 in the primary, and 58-42 in the general. The largest effect will when one candidate has around 50%, so it is certainly within the realm of possibility that a candidate who gets 61% in the primary would get 50%- in the general based on differential turnout like in 2012.

  8. #4 The last sentence says that candidates are permitted to have their party preference printed on the ballot.

    That is what the Constitution says. That is what the voters approved with Proposition 14.

    The Secretary of State is either incompetent or deliberately sabotaging the Top 2 primary.

    The Constitution says that any voter may cast a vote for any candidate without regard to the party preference of either the voter or the candidate.

    The State of California through the Secretary of State’s maladministration is restricting the right to vote by making distinctions among political parties, and more particularly the party preferences of the voter and candidate.

    According to the most recent registration statistics, 367,000 California voters have a party preference for a non-qualified party. That is almost 80,000 more than combined total for the Green, Libertarian, Peace&Freedom, and Americans Elect party.

    These voters are particularly discriminated against since they will be unable to find candidates who share their political beliefs. Candidates are discriminated against because they have been barred from having their actual political beliefs appear on the ballot.

    Under the old partisan primary system, the premise was that qualified political parties had demonstrated a modicum of support, so that they could hold a primary. Candidates only needed 40/65 signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. The winner of the primary was presumed to have the support of the party and thereby established that they had a modicum of support. Primary voters and candidates were restricted for the most part to party registrants.

    Other candidates had to qualify by collecting 1000’s of signatures. Even though the candidates might have a political affiliation, they could not have that affiliation appear on the ballot, because those making the nomination, the signers of the petition, were not necessarily affiliated with the party. That is they were supporting David Bergland appearing on the general election ballot, not the Libertarian David Bergland.

    But under the Top 2 open primary all candidates qualify for the single primary ballot by collecting 40/65 signatures and paying a fee. Unlike the old partisan primary system, those 40/65 signatures can be from any voter regardless of their party preference.

    A candidate advances to the general election ballot by getting votes from a significant share of the electorate.

    Voters might well consider a candidate’s party preference when they vote – but that it is their decision. It is not up to the State of California to block that information from appearing on the ballot.

    California must be a neutral administrator of elections. It may not play favorites, and permit political expression by candidates who prefer more popular parties, while denying it to those who prefer less popular parties. It can deny every candidate that expression on the ballot, as it does for nonpartisan elections. Or it can permit it for every candidate on the ballot.

    Under California law, a party is “qualified” based on there being a sufficient number of voters with that party preference. The Secretary of State is attempting to reverse the dependency. Under her interpretation it is not a party preference if the party preference is for a non-qualified party.

    This interpretation is nonsensical. California law requires the Secretary of State to report the number of voters whose party preference is for non-qualified parties, which she does regularly. Her office sent an advisory to county election officials prior to the June 2010 primary at which Proposition 14 was approved by the voters, emphasizing the distinction between voters who affiliated with a non-qualified party, and those who had no partisan affiliation whatsoever. The distinction was also noted in training materials for those administering elections.

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