Timm Herdt, Politics Editor of Ventura County Star, says California’s Top-Two System Should be Repealed

Timm Herdt, state editor of the Ventura County Star and author of a weekly politics column that is distributed nationally by Scripps Howard Syndicate, says in this column that California’s Proposition 14, the top-two system, should be repealed. Herdt notes that he had supported it when it was on the ballot in June 2010.

Herdt does not mention the effect Proposition 14 has had on California’s minor parties, but he does point out that the system has not been kind to the state’s independent candidates. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.


Timm Herdt, Politics Editor of Ventura County Star, says California’s Top-Two System Should be Repealed — No Comments

  1. Under the old system of segregated partisan primaries, and extremely high barriers for independent candidates, there were only 12 independent candidates for US Representative since 1964. It is hypocritical to suggest that Top 2 Open Primary is “not kind” to independent candidates.

    Does Timm Herdt think that turnout was less than 2% in parts of Bell Gardens in neighboring Los Angeles because of Top 2? Does he know the difference between correlation and causation?

    In 2010, in Ventura County, 46.8% of Republicans voted, 32.5% of Democrats, and only 22.2% of DTS/NQPP voters. While some claim that there were no hoops for these voters to vote in the partisan primaries, there quite clearly were. 61% of such voters who voted by mail, failed to “request” a partisan ballot. On election day, 32% did not make such a request. It is quite possible that some mail voters after receiving a non-partisan ballot, showed up at the polls and voted a provisional ballot. And other voters may have philosophical issues with being coerced into political association merely to exercise their right to vote.

    And yet it was apparently fine for Timm Herdt that Ventura County was electing its nonpartisan county supervisors with this partisan electorate.

    Davids Evans was a candidate for the Republican nomination for controller in 2010, receiving 40% of the vote. The Democrats and Republicans did not endorse a candidate, and the American Independent party endorsed Evans. Voters would look at Perez and figure that someone term-limited for Assembly was just looking for another office. The same with Yee, who also had the misfortune of sharing a last name with an indicted senator who was running for another state office. Just because the other Yee received 8% of the vote, doesn’t mean that a lot of people didn’t vote against him and every other Yee on the ballot. I wouldn’t have guessed that Ashley was a woman’s name. Colorado City is the 3rd largest city in California, and though Evans is a CPA, that is not the extent of his resume. Someone who replaces Dick Rutan must be more than a mere accountant. Yes .bbbuut bbutut We at the Ventura County Star didn’t he cover the controllers race and now we have to flail about.

  2. The problem with the low turnout was cuased by the lack of reporting of the biggest story of the campaign for unity and not by the mechanics of the voting system.

    The top two system would work good if there was a three-way tie among
    the two established parties and independents and third parties had worked
    together to approach closer to 33.33%, plus two votes, and the other two split the remaining votes at 33.33%, minus one vote each.

    In fact, the second highest vote getter could win in a three-way contest with as little as two votes, had the top vote getter garnered 100% of the votes, minus three votes, the 2nd two votes and the third one vote.

    Though the 60-day election time frame was short, had Ellen Brown
    and/or any Green Party (or others?) candidates decided to start working
    across party lines to get voters to support a multi-party team, then
    the voters could have organized behind them and there would be
    more free publicity at forums (and the press?) too because of the unity generated.

    I called Ellen myself and spoke to her several times about such a
    project. We did it without her because she declined and it worked far better this year than 2010 when we conducted an identical unity coalition.

    So my observation is that she and the Green Party’s candidates were simply not open to working together on a united coalition when they were invited.

    For them to decline any interest in cooperation was rather odd since there was only three candidates for Treasurer, and our team didn’t have a person on the team for that Treasurer seat, so it seemed like some teamwork and unity should have been perceived as a good thing to get her even more votes.

    See the “Coalition of Seven” marked eballots for electing the team here:


    You can also see some of the candidates’ statements about this year’s project in the bottom navigation bar at:


    Spread the word, the 9th USA Parliament has the juice and unity is the juice.

    We have five national 1000-member super-state parliament elections
    underway through August 5th which elect a five-member executive (three
    prime ministers and two secretaries) and we’re always attracting more
    and more team players.

    Won’t you join us? Phase two of the California “Coalition of Seven” starts on August 10th, 2014, and we’ll be electing a brand new team beginning in 60 days.

  3. It does not follow logically that California couldn’t return to a semi-closed primary and also reduce the number of signatures for independent candidates. There is no necessary connection between a semi-closed primary and any particular petition requirement for independent candidates.

  4. 1. NO primaries.
    2. Equal ballot access tests.
    3. P.R. and nonpartisan App.V. — pending head to head math.

  5. The logic behind the high barriers for independent candidates is that it justified by the barrier to holding a publicly-funded segregated partisan primaries for political parties.

    If you lower the barriers for independent candidates, then why not do away with the segregated partisan primaries altogether? Political parties would be free to distribute how-to-vote cards just like they distributed ballots before introduction of the Australian ballots.

    You eliminate the requirement for party qualification, since anyone could distribute how-to-vote cards, including newspapers, advocacy groups, etc.

    Note that this system is better than the pre-Australian Ballot system since it gives better control over distribution of the ballots, helping protect against ballot stuffing and providing greater ballot secrecy.

    If no candidate received a majority, you could have a runoff between the Top 2 candidates.

  6. Good for Timm. Offering only 2 candidates of the same Party in a November election is not a real election, it is one that says to Minor Party registered voters that they are wrong to have such beliefs. And it is wrong to tell a registered Republican voter that they must choose between 2 Democrats because the system has decided that people should not have choices in elections.

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