San Francisco Elections Official Breaks Tie in Peace & Freedom Party Primary

California is one of a handful of states in which political parties other than the Democratic and Republican Parties use government primaries to choose party officers. On June 20, San Francisco Elections Director John Arntz placed two slips of paper inside a jar, each containing the name of one candidate for Peace and Freedom Party County Central Committee. He then put his hand in the jar and drew out one name, and proclaimed that person the winner. This was done to break a tie. Each of the two candidates had polled 118 votes. See this story.

The story does not include the detail that the Peace & Freedom Party has determined that it will seat both candidates, notwithstanding the tie-breaking event. The party is free to do this, because the election was for party office, not public office. California parties are not required to elect party officers in the primary; but the Peace & Freedom Party, along with the Green Party, and the American Independent Party, do choose their party officers that way.


  1. The Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee will almost certainly seat both candidates. That is what we have done in the past. But we have not formally determined that yet, and can’t until the open minutes of the state convention on August 4. The County Central Committee can, and I believe will, do so at its next meeting.

  2. Jim Riley · · Reply

    California should repeal Article II Section 2 subsections (c) and (d). The provisions related to party committee elections are there simply because Proposition 14 explicitly did not apply to the presidential primary and party elections.

    OTOH, the preamble of Proposition 14 says that it was the intent that “political parties may also adopt such rules as they see fit for the selection of party officials (including central committee members, presidential electors, and party officers).”

    There is no reason to have provisions for a presidential primary in the California constitution so long as it is merely a beauty contest that is non-binding on the internal machinations of the political parties. Removal would not preclude the continuation of statutory provisions for a presidential primary.

    This would also clear the decks for potential implementation of a direct presidential primary.

    The primary should be moved to September, with provisions for overseas voters to indicate conditional preferences for the general election (as is done in Louisiana).

    It appears that the inclusion of the presidential and party primaries may have confused some voters, who may not have realized that the primary was for all voters. There was certainly huge differential turnout based on party affiliation.

  3. Jim Riley · · Reply

    California should greatly reduce the qualification standard for political parties, and also deregulate their governance.

    It violates the 1st Amendment to restrict candidates to expressing a preference for more popular viewpoints. The only interest that the State of California has is to ensure that a political party is a party in a meaningful sense (recognizable structure, responsible officers, compliance with campaign finance reporting, ultimate control of party governance by voters registered with the party).

    Regulation of candidate party preference should be seen as similar to the office/occupation/profession preference. The State of California does not care what profession or occupation a candidate designates, they do care that it be documented and real (if it is an occupation, a candidate must have actually engaged in the activity in the last year). A candidate’s party preference is documented on their voter registration. All that is needed to ensure that the party preference is for a “political party” and that California can translate the party name into 10 languages.

    California should reduce the minimum party qualification to something quite modest (100 or 200). New parties should be permitted to qualify by petition only – when the party qualifies, the party registration of the petition signers would be changed to that of their newly formed party.

    This will eliminate the need for write-in party designations. When a voter specifies the name of an unrecognized party on a registration form, the county registration would seek clarification prior to recording the voter as non-affiliated.

    During a transitional period, vote registrars would examine the registration affidavits of all voters who are not registered with a currently qualified party, and produce a list of specified parties (similar to what Louisiana does). The SOS could then designate normalized spellings.

    Parties with sufficient membership (100 or 200) would be recognized as dormant, with provisions by which a modest number of party registrants could call an organization convention. So the Natural Law Party would be recognized as a dormant party, unless some share of the registrants (1% or 10 or more?) proposed reactivating the party. Miscellaneous registrations would be converted to non-affiliated.

    Candidates without a party preference should be allowed to choose from among “independent”, “non-affiliated”, “non-partisan”, “none”, and ” “.

    Party requirements should be similar to those in Florida. While Richard Winger thinks they are fussy, they are similar to what States require for corporate governance. As long as a political party is ultimately responsible to voters registered with the party what actual political activities the political party does or does not undertake.

    Basic requirements:

    Party Name (unique and non-confusing)

    Minimum registration (100 or 200)

    Rules/By-Law, deposited with SOS, method of changing rules, precleared with USDOJ under Section 5 of VRA,
    effective ultimate control of party by registrants, non-discriminatory on the basis of sex, age (over 18), race, financial contribution.

    State executive committee, including Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer. Method of selection directly or indirectly by registrant, at least biennially, with staggered terms allowed, and handling of vacancies.

    County contact. Since California does not have partisan elections below the legislative level, there is no need for county organizations, and perhaps not even for a county contact. But is reasonable that John Arntz, Dean Logan, etc. might need someone to contact on behalf of the party when preparing ballots (endorsements should be made by state party, it is just busywork to have a party send its endorsement to multiple county registrars).

    Annual financial audit. Parties with minimal receipts and expenditures and assets would simply need a signed statement from the treasurer saying that if it is not true he will go to prison. Parties would also need to comply with other campaign finance laws.

    Biennial State Convention. Delegate selection either universal (any member may attend); indirect by regional, county, etc. conventions; or by ballot.

    Method of designating presidential and vice presidential candidate, and presidential electors.

  4. Jim Riley · · Reply

    Requirement for qualifying a presidential candidate should be greatly reduced. A reasonable standard might be 40 registrants in each congressional district, supplemented as necessary by petition.

    The Peace & Freedom Party has over 500 members in every congressional district, and thus would easily qualify.

    If the threshold for recognition was 100, then the Christian, Conservative, Constitution, Justice, La Raza Unida, Reform, We Like Women, and WHIG parties would be recognized in California. They would be able to qualify a presidential candidate by petition (40 signatures minus registration) in each congressional district). The Reform Party probably has 40 registrants in each congressional district.

    Some same 40 registrants per congressional district could be used to determine whether a presidential preference primary is held for the party.

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