California Newspaper Reporters, Editorial Writers, Make Frequent Factual Errors about Proposition 14 "Top-Two" Open Primary System

California is using Proposition 14, the “top-two open primary” system, this year for the first time in a regularly-scheduled election. At least three newspaper columnists or reporters this month have told readers that if someone gets 50% of the vote in June for Congress or state office, that person is elected and the office is not on the November ballot. Here is the latest example, from the Argonaut, a free weekly newspaper in western Los Angeles County. The last sentence of the article is “If no single candidate reaches 50% plus one on June 5, the runoff for the general election will be November 6.” UPDATE: here is another example of an incorrect news story. See the third paragraph in this story, published in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario, California.

The confusion arises because proponents of Proposition 14, ever since 2010, have claimed that Proposition 14 is “just like” non-partisan two-round elections for California county office, and for city office in a few cities. The truth is that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1997 in Foster v Love that states must hold congressional elections in all districts in November. If states want a run-off, they must hold it after November. Georgia and Louisiana are the only states that require congressional run-offs if no one gets 50% in November. In hundreds, if not thousands, of media stories about the California primary system, not one source has mentioned Foster v Love. Of course proponents of Proposition 14 knew about Foster v Love, which is why they wrote Proposition 14 to provide that there is always a November election for Congress and state office in every district, no matter whether someone gets 50% in June or not.

Another factual error that is repeated endlessly in California is that before Proposition 14, independent voters were blocked from voting in major party primaries for Congress and state office. Ever since 2001, the Republican and Democratic Parties have let independent voters vote in all their congressional and state office primaries. When such voters entered the polling place on primary day, or requested a mail ballot, they were told of their choices; they didn’t need to ask.


  1. Demo Rep · · Reply

    NO body in the MORON media can read the text of the CA Constit and the CA election code ???

    or even the stuff used when Prop 14 got enacted by the SOVEREIGN electors in CA — i.e. a DEMOCRACY vote.

    Par for the course in the New Age MORON media.

    Top 2 stuff – one more step on the road to —

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V. — regardless of ALL media morons, all robot party hacks, all MORON reformers, etc. etc.

  2. Richard: has anybody, besides yourself, made an attempt to officially correct this erroneous reporting?

  3. Demo Rep · · Reply

    After the first CA top 2 primary happens in June, 2012 the old stuff will all belong in the political history graveyard – along with divine right of kings, slavery, etc. etc.

    Like worrying about how the EVIL rotted kings in England got into power from 1066 to 1688 – many by EVIL force with ZERO Democracy stuff.

    Top 2 on the march (to REAL Democracy) – NE, LA, WA, CA – more to come ???

    Gee – how and why did the OFFICIAL primary election and general election ballots (with ballot access LAWS) come along in the EVIL BAD old days in the late 1880s after the Civil War ???

    SLOOOOOOOW progress in getting REAL Democracy into the Dark Age U.S.A. and State gerrymander regimes.

  4. #2, I phoned the newspaper editor and also the reporter. But all I got for each of them was voice mail, and neither one called me back. I also tried to leave a comment underneath the article but it didn’t “take.”

  5. Deemer from California · · Reply


    Didn’t the A.I.P. ALSO permit all D-T-S voters to vote in all of it’s primaries in every year since 2001 except for 2010?

  6. Richard Winger · · Reply

    #5, yes. I would have listed the AIP in that sentence except that, as you note, the AIP changed its policy for the 2010 primary and then changed back, and that would have made the generalization too complicated.

  7. Demo Rep · · Reply

    How much stuff about the top 2 primary on the CA SOS website ???

    Of course, too many lazy media morons to count — too lazy to look at such website.

  8. Jim Riley · · Reply

    Foster v Love does not say that. It said that the representative can’t be chosen before the 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November. Louisiana would actually certify unopposed candidates in October.
    California law requires that voters not intending to affiliate with a party participating in a partisan primary be permitted to request a ballot of a party (whose whim it was to let them do so).

    The SOS has not rescinded CC/ROV advisory 10086 issued March 9, 2010 has she?

  9. Jim Riley · · Reply

    The Argonaut uses the incorrect name. Proposition 14 said:

    First—This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act.”

  10. I think the late night show guy has two m’s in his name.

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