Two Problems with Top Two

Last month, I wrote at CAIVN: "Two special elections for State Senate scheduled on February 15th will be the first to be held under California’s “top two” open primary, and at least one candidate, Michael Chamness, is running in protest of the new system."  In an op-ed for the Daily Breeze, Chamness states his case against the "top two" primary system:
The laws dramatically limit voter choice and candidate's rights. Because of this new set of laws, third-party candidates from parties without ballot access are forbidden from listing their party affiliation on the ballot. I'm officially registered with the Coffee Party, a minor (i.e., non-state-recognized) party. However, the current law forces candidates to say they have "no party preference." In stark contrast, Democratic and Republican candidates are free to state their party's name on the ballot. Bottom line, SB 6 forces minor-party candidates to lie to voters and does them a grave disservice. And that needs to change.

Another troubling dictate of SB 6 is that it mandates that all write-in votes cast "at the general election shall not be counted." As such, SB 6 would have robbed a duly elected write-in candidate such as Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski of a victory, as all votes cast for her would have been tossed out. . . . In the interests of preserving the intent of the voters, this provision of SB 6 must be overturned.. . . .

So I ask for your vote, though I realize it's a long shot . . . I would work tirelessly to brew up better government, put a lid on wasteful spending, find common ground among our electorate, and fight to see that the average citizen has the opportunity to run for office and stir things up a bit in Sacramento.


richardwinger said...

Another problem, which only came to light last month, is that the implementing legislation for the Top-two law makes it far more difficult for members of qualified minor parties to get on the primary ballot.

DLW said...

Top Two would benefit from the use of something else besides First (Two) Past the Post in the first stage.

I am not sure that a polyglot of minor party candidates on the ballot in the first stage would be a good thing. It seems that a minor party candidate would have a better chance of being among the top two if there were fewer minor party candidates on the ballot getting votes from folks upset with both the two major parties.

It also bears mention that whenever there is a single-seated election that there tends to be two major parties and so "top two" systematizes what existed already informally. And it enables the first round of the two-stage election to be a winner-doesn't-take-all election.

I'd rather see three candidates in the second round, as with a "top three IRV", but I think what minor parties need most is to focus on getting multi-seated elections introduced for city council or state assembly elections so they can get the r-e-s-p-e-c-t from being able to win seats. Unfortunately, "top two" has not taken that much from them, because they had such low prospects of winning seats in the first place. Hopefully, it'll force them to be more creative in voting strategically together in both stages in the future...