On June 26, an African-American voter, Elise Brown, of Victorville, California, filed a federal lawsuit, charging that top-two, as applied, violates the Voting Rights Act and also violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The claim is based on voting rights. Brown charges that her November 2012 ballot, in the 8th U.S. House district, leaves her with only two Republicans, both of whom she alleges are hostile to her interests. The complaint charges that because there is no write-in space, and because she cannot in good conscience vote for either candidate who is listed on the ballot, the top-two system deprives her of a vote in November.
The case is Brown v Bowen, central district, Riverside, cv12-05547. Here is the complaint, which says that Brown is a member of the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee, and an officer of the Adelanto-Victorville Democratic Club. The two candidates who placed first and second in the 8th district are Assemblyman Paul Cook, a conservative Republican, and Greg Imus, another conservative Republican. The 8th district covers the bulk of the more rural parts of San Bernardino County, plus other counties on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
This is the first lawsuit against California’s top-two open primary that is filed by anyone associated with either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. The other three lawsuits that have been filed against California’s Proposition 14 have all been filed by independent candidates or minor political parties and their members.