The Brad Blog Carries Article on California Top-Two System

The Brad Blog has this article about how California’s top-two “open primary” is working this year in the 26th U.S. House district. The piece is by Ernest A. Canning, who has degrees in Political Science and has been an attorney since 1977.

14 comments

  1. Jim Riley · · Reply

    Why doesn’t he call it a jungle primary?

  2. This site is amazingly thorough. I have run articles on my own website (below) that I would have never found if this website wasn’t there. Election reform is the most important cause of our time!

    democracychronicles.com

  3. Jim Riley · · Reply

    Under the old partisan primary system, a small faction of the Democratic Party might grab control of the primary, perhaps with 30% of the Democratic vote. They could target their GOTV at union members and other activist leftists, and actually prefer that more moderate Democrats not vote in the primary. Now it is risky that moderate Democrats might not turn out for the primary. Ventura County Democratic Party did not make an endorsement, which would have appeared on the sample ballot; Canning cites the endorsement by the leftist moveon.org group for the candidate he personally favors.

  4. #3, under the old partisan primary system, if a state has fair ballot access, voters who are unhappy with the major party nominees can organize and support a third choice. In 2010, independent and minor party nominees were elected to state or federal office in eleven states.

    It is intrinsically wrong to limit the election ballot itself to only two choices. Federal law since the 19th century has told the states that federal elections are in November of even-numbered years. No other country in the world limits its election to only two candidates for one particular office. It is an illegitimate idea to provide by law that only two candidates can run in an election itself. Federal law says if states want a run-off for congress, they can do that after November.

  5. Demo Rep · · Reply

    What about ALL of those top N primaries in a zillion local govts in the U.S.A. ??? — many city councils and judges.

    How many more and plurality plurality extremists are being elected — U.S.A. Reps and Senators, State Govs, State Senators and State Reps ???

    How many plurality Prezs in U.S.A. history ???


    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

    ONE election.

    EQUAL nominating petitions.

  6. Richard Winger · · Reply

    #5, the difference in a typical non-partisan two-round election is that the first round is an election. Someone can be elected at it. If someone gets 50% or more, he or she is elected.

    Top-two is different. No one gets elected in the first round. The first round has no function except to keep candidates out of the election itself.

  7. Demo Rep · · Reply

    How many top N primaries in the U.S.A. are NOT elections — even if there are only 2 candidates in the primary for a single person office ???

    i.e. Is there ANY *election* in ANY of the top N primaries for at large city councils ???

    see e.g. former Detroit — nonpartisan 9 at large.

    even if all of the top 9 got a majority of votes each in the primary there still was a November Election.

    Detroit coming 2013 — nonpartisan 2 at large — 7 in gerrymander districts.

  8. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #4 Did California have fair ballot access laws before 2010?

    The US Supreme Court in 1944 _Smith v Allwright_ affirmed that primaries were an intrinsic part of the election process. They reaffirmed this in _Tashjian_.

    Federal election law recognizes that primaries are part of the election process by their campaign financing laws, and requiring certain ballots to be sent out 45 days before the election.

  9. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #6 Many places have Top 2 primaries. Some cancel the primary when there are only two candidates.

    The purpose of the Top 2 primary is to winnow the field.

  10. Richard Winger · · Reply

    #8, Smith v Allwright is no longer good law, except on the narrow point of race. See all the US Supreme Court opinions starting in 1972, through 2008, about political party freedom of association, especially the last one, New York State Board of Elections v Lopez Torres.

  11. Richard: I appreciate the coverage–especially your recognition in comment #4 of the adverse impact the “Top Two” open primary system on the ability of third parties to take part in the general election–but a correction is in order regarding my credentials.

    I have a BA and an MA in political science, in addition to a law degree (Juris Doctor–JD). I do not possess a PhD in political science.

  12. Demo Rep · · Reply

    What part of the U.S.A. Const. says that X percent of ALL Electors (in a robot party hack party) have a constitutional right to have THEIR robot party hack candidates on general election ballots with THEIR robot party hack label ???

    Solve for X.

  13. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #10 The majority opinion in Tashjian (1986) specifically cites Smith v Allwright.

    You don’t deny that 1986 was between 1972 and 2008, nor that Tashjian was about political party freedom of association?

    Do you?

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