Independent Candidate in California Says Jury Still Out on Top-Two Primary

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Alan Reynolds is an Independent candidate running for lieutenant governor in California. Choosing to run as an independent, according to Reynolds, is one thing that sets him apart from the other candidates in the race.

Running as an Independent will give the voters another option outside of the two major parties. Reynolds believes that the two-party system voters have been stuck with isn’t serving the interest of the people.

,” he said. “Right now we have two parties ‐‐ in California I’d say one‐and‐a‐half parties, and the only thing they agree on is staying in power.”

He pointed out that the there hasn’t been a Republican lieutenant governor in over 30 years, and that the last one was appointed, not elected.The conception, therefore, is that if a candidate has an ‘R’ next to their name, it means they don’t want to win. Further, “many third party conceptions are incorrect and hard to change.”

“I’m trying to bring another option,” Reynolds added.

This raises the subject of election reform, something Reynolds believes is necessary. However, he also believes the jury is still out on California’s top-two primary system.

One benefit of the nonpartisan system, he believes, is that it seems to allow more moderate candidates to get through to the general election. Reynolds says more moderate and centrist candidates better represent the views of the voting public. Decreasing party polarization might also allow voters to unify their efforts and focus more on pragmatic solutions, as rationality replaces ideology.

He also believes, however, that Top-Two may not offer enough reform. First, California didn’t do enough to help implement the new process as only 25 percent of voters knew they could vote for any primary candidate in the last election. Additionally, under Top‐Two, it is difficult to assess how much support third parties have because they rarely make it to the general election.

Reynolds believes there are three priorities when dealing with election reform: getting corporate money out of politics, finding ways to reform the role of political parties, and restructuring the electoral system itself.

He says that one reform that is worth considering is instant runoff voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. This voting method is used around the globe, including parts of California, to give voters a louder voice and reduce the strategic voting (voting against a candidate) that is inherent to the two‐party system.

One thing is for sure: voter reform is still a work in progress. When considering the importance of California elections, Reynolds reminds people that the state is the eighth largest economy in the world, and that the state has the potential to set an example for the rest of the nation.

He acknowledged some of the difficulties in running as an independent. The largest obstacle is an obvious one: money. Independent candidates, more often than not, lack the necessary funds to effectively launch their campaigns. Their purses simply aren’t as established, elaborate, or large as their major‐party rivals. When fundraising, Reynolds hears a fair share of “not right nows” from large organizations.

Nevertheless, Reynolds remains determined and optimistic in pursuing his goal to change the political structure from the inside. But, being an independent does have one major benefit.

“It frees me up to be me,” Reynolds said. “I will still be the same — working within [the system] without having to sacrifice my independence.”

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Paul S Approval voting has been show to have higher acceptance than IRV by most studies.  The failure to recast a vote with a changing field of candidates creates some misgivings about the final victor (which may well not be the leader for those picking their favorite - #1 choice.Approval voting as proposed in Oregon is similar and both systems do provide a much better indication of the strength of support for either third parties or unaffiliated candidates.   If you've ever done a brainstorming it works on simliar routine.   You have open non-partisan ballot and may cast a vote for any number of candidates that you feel should be considered for the general election.  All votes have equal weight (a problem in ranked voting that make decision making for the voter much more difficult).   From that point, the top 2 go to the general election.  The positive of both IRV and Approval voting is the primary results will show a MUCH higher acceptance level for minor party candidates and unaffiliated candidates.I like the California top 2 design as a transition.  It has given us open and non-partisan primaries and that is no small accomplishment.   But when you are only allowed a single vote, you are virtually assuring a two party system.   Both the IRV and Approval voting give a more complete picture of support outside of the two major parties.  I am just more comfortable with the people, not the math formula, picking the winner of the election process.
  2. WalterGarbe 1986 Amnesty can be reality today, please help america to be america, take a look: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BPa3G_5CMAAkbSO.jpg:large
  3. WalterGarbe This Law is just to reduce the flow and not to criminalize anyone ( illegals and american employers ) around 80 years, take a look : https://twitter.com/WalterGarbe/status/433345953198637058/photo/1/large
  4. BobHaran Constitution Party of Arizona FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2014 Contact: Bob Haran 602-442-6806 [email protected] http://www.azconstitutionparty.com/  Arizona Constitution Party Chairman Supports Top Two Primary.  There may be considerable merit in a top-two primary system.  As a party chairman, I can appreciate a political party having objections to allowing voters, who are not members of their party, having a say in determining who shall represent their party in the November general election.  We are, however, selecting individuals to represent all the people and not just members of any one political party. I believe the voter has a right to vote for any candidate they want, regardless of party.  To eliminate party labels altogether, however, I believe would not be in the best interest of the voter. The party that a candidate identifies with tells the voter something about that candidates' political ideology.  What I believe would be the best and fairest system for selecting our public officials would be an open primary, with all the candidates listed on one ballot, with the party they identify with posted next to their name and the top two candidates advancing to the general election.  This system would give all the voters the widest choice of candidates and each candidate the fairest chance of election by the majority of the people who vote. It would also have the added advantage of giving independent voters, who are now one third of the voters, and third party voters and candidates a greater say in their government.  Bob Haran, Chairman, Constitution Party of Arizona.  -30-
  5. Rodney Petersen Jr Term Limits.. As well as a huge pay cut.. Why are we paying these guys 100,000 a year every year till death regardless if they are still working or not.. The people who should be making that kind of money are our teachers and our armed forces. . Seriously we pay a teacher around 40,000 a year and they easily work twice as hard as any politician.. And are armed forces easily should be making double that for there relentless hard work keeping us safe. . Thank you
  6. Chgo Dave they need to be held accountable
  7. Gary Olson A federal/state/local donated dollar amount that would be pooled and justly divided among viable predetermined candidates that have demonstrated the ability to govern with programs that would provide benefits to the air-breathing citizen. Each initiated program would get a thorough and honest vetting by impartial moderators to expose any lack of transparency connected with either the candiate, his or her affiliations, and/or the long-term effects or gains from the proposed programs. ( I am sure that holes can and will be shot through this but it is an idea that the money and influence of corporations will be excluded from dominating the political process.)
  8. Charles Dine A popular vote
  9. Darren Burgin One thing I'd love is that those how wish to become politicians must forsake any business ventures not pertaining to the representation of We The People. While in Office, if they have a business, they would have to temprarily turn that business over to someone else until that term of office was complete. Also, no businesses would be allowed to lobby them. Buying votes would be strictly prohibited and those caught doing it will lose their office and title, and the business would be made to pay a fine twice the amount of what was given to said politician. Or vice versa of course. The company would pay back money given to than by politicians along with a hefty fine.
  10. Christopher M. King Jean Quan Syndrome....Oakland, Ca. ;-(
70 comments
Paul S
Paul S

Approval voting has been shown to have higher acceptance than IRV by most studies.  The failure to recast a vote with a changing field of candidates creates some misgivings about the final victor in IRV, (which may well not be the leader for those picking their favorite - #1 choice.)

Approval voting as proposed in Oregon is similar to IRV and both systems do provide a much better indication of the strength of support for either third parties or unaffiliated candidates.  But they are not identical.   If you've ever done a brainstorming Approval voting  works on a simliar routine.   

You have open non-partisan ballot and may cast a vote for any number of candidates that you feel should be considered for the general election.  All votes have equal weight (a problem in ranked voting that makes decision making for the voter much more difficult).   From that point, the top 2 vote getters go to the general election.  The process allows the voter to avoid the conflict of 'wasting' a vote if they only have one choice and aren't willing to vote for a minor candidate.

The positive of both IRV and Approval voting is the primary results will show a MUCH higher acceptance level for minor party candidates and unaffiliated candidates.

I like the California top 2 design as a transition.  It has given us open and non-partisan primaries and that is no small accomplishment.   But when you are only allowed a single vote, you are virtually assuring a two party system.   Both the IRV and Approval voting give a more complete picture of support outside of the two major parties.  I am just more comfortable with the people, not the math formula, picking the winner of the election process.   

Rodney Petersen Jr
Rodney Petersen Jr

Term Limits.. As well as a huge pay cut.. Why are we paying these guys 100,000 a year every year till death regardless if they are still working or not.. The people who should be making that kind of money are our teachers and our armed forces. . Seriously we pay a teacher around 40,000 a year and they easily work twice as hard as any politician.. And are armed forces easily should be making double that for there relentless hard work keeping us safe. . Thank you

Chgo Dave
Chgo Dave

they need to be held accountable

Gary Olson
Gary Olson

A federal/state/local donated dollar amount that would be pooled and justly divided among viable predetermined candidates that have demonstrated the ability to govern with programs that would provide benefits to the air-breathing citizen. Each initiated program would get a thorough and honest vetting by impartial moderators to expose any lack of transparency connected with either the candiate, his or her affiliations, and/or the long-term effects or gains from the proposed programs. ( I am sure that holes can and will be shot through this but it is an idea that the money and influence of corporations will be excluded from dominating the political process.)

Darren Burgin
Darren Burgin

One thing I'd love is that those how wish to become politicians must forsake any business ventures not pertaining to the representation of We The People. While in Office, if they have a business, they would have to temprarily turn that business over to someone else until that term of office was complete. Also, no businesses would be allowed to lobby them. Buying votes would be strictly prohibited and those caught doing it will lose their office and title, and the business would be made to pay a fine twice the amount of what was given to said politician. Or vice versa of course. The company would pay back money given to than by politicians along with a hefty fine.

Randy Novinger
Randy Novinger

I would rather NOT see 1/4 of the people in control. Bad as it is. It must come down to two candidates.

RichardWinger
RichardWinger

There is no evidence that top-two systems help moderates.  None.  Seven political science studies in 2013, and one in 2012, rebut the idea that it helps moderates.  Top-two creates freakish outcomes.  It neither helps nor hinders moderates.  It makes the outcome like a lottery.  There is no correlation between type of primary system, and how many moderates get elected.  Louisiana has used the system since 1975.  No one who writes for IVN ever wants to study Louisiana, yet that is the best source of infornation about how it works in practice.  Members of Congress from Louisiana vote very much like other southern members of Congress.

Sue Rich
Sue Rich

No parties. And all donations in one account to be divided equally between candidates who made the cut. The one who uses his money the wisest, earns the seat. Also, I agree with Medra. Let all the candidates run, not just the ones two groups of idiots decided on.

Ben Hardin
Ben Hardin

Consolidation of Congressional Districts into multiple-seat (normally 3) districts with a voting system that facilitates electing the candidates who, rather than receiving voting pluralities, receive votes that reflect they are most acceptable to the greatest number of voters, e.g. a approval voting in which voters are allowed to rate level of acceptability of a number of candidates listed on the ballot.

bobconner
bobconner

Systems offering public funding for qualifying candidates is also a way to balance the impact of big money in politics.  As progressive as CA is, I wonder why past initiatives haven't been successful with voters?

Billy Nanez
Billy Nanez

Top two primary is just as rigged. Look at LA and WA. Democrats and Republicans fill up the spots with their candidates and drown out the minor parties and candidates. It may be a different scheme but it keeps the two party tyranny in power.

Lulu Black
Lulu Black

have one pool for money funding the conventions and campaigns; split evenly among ALL parties.

Shawn M Griffiths
Shawn M Griffiths moderator

I agree with Alan Reynolds that there is always room for improvement with regards to election reform. Top-two is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. Adding approval voting or ranked-choice voting are certainly options and adding approval voting to top-two is already being proposed in Oregon. Election and ballot access laws should be fair to third parties, which will help strengthen these parties, but most people leaving the major parties are not going to third parties -- they are becoming unaffiliated voters. Political parties serve a purpose, but we should not make reform about parties, but voters.

williamcerf
williamcerf

I have know Alan for several years and am supporting his candidacy.

Michael Vanna
Michael Vanna

Divvy up the money equally like baseball does with the smaller markets...Then buying one candidate won't work because they would all have to split it up evenly. Then all the yahoo's would equal money and time to tell the voters what they're NOT going to do anyway!

Alan Reynolds for California Lt. Gov. - Independent
Alan Reynolds for California Lt. Gov. - Independent

We all have to work together. The divisive nature of the 2 major parties puts everyone else behind in getting ideas out and gathering money. People assume there is "no chance" thus do not give or pay attention. Essentially making their own prophecy come true.

Fred Marsico
Fred Marsico

Remove partisan control of the elections and restore the process to the People where it rightfully belongs.

Rick Gorud
Rick Gorud

Campaign finance reform. SET limit on spending.

Rebecca Rose Howe Schwarz
Rebecca Rose Howe Schwarz

True political campaign financing laws which forbid taxpayer money to be used, no foreign money, no out-of-state money used, absolute campaign finances verified and not fraudulent.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

A couple of things already mentioned that I like are no party affiliations on the ballot and no primaries. Some form of equal airtime and term limits are good, too. So, not to detract from those or any other suggestions, I would start with either at-large elections of representatives or campaign finance reform. The former would, I think, be more basic and long lasting but the latter seems to be a more pressing necessity.

Bryan Harper
Bryan Harper

To my understanding, I.R.V. eliminates the plurality problem. Am I simply misunderstanding Plurality or are you simply misunderstanding the I.R.V. system? (honestly asking the question, btw) With IRV we may end up with everyone's 2nd or 3rd choice, but at least we wont end up with 51% of the people's 1st choice and 49% of the people's last choice. (the major problem with today's system is that it pit us against each other post election, instead of uniting us... IMHO)

Robert Polityka
Robert Polityka

In the event where 2 US Senate seats of the same state are up fo election (one for a six year term, the other seat is special election)...then have all candidates run for both seats. First place wins the six year term...the second place wins the shorter term.

Robert Polityka
Robert Polityka

Modified electoral college. Let the candidate with the plurality in each Congressional district get that electoral vote..and the candidate with the plurality in each state get two electoral votes.

Kountry Kev
Kountry Kev

Too many bozos in the world that say gee, that guys face is plastered all over television, probably because he's the better candidate. Instead of saying who's giving that guy all that $ to be on tv and what is he expected to screw the people on in return

Kountry Kev
Kountry Kev

That all Candidates regardless of income, receive equal airtime. Not fair that the rich ones that are more likely to Suck, get all the airtime

Ray Doody
Ray Doody

that no debate will be allowed unless it is open to all potential candidates regardless of party affiliation. and we need to dispose of the electoral college.

Rick Smith
Rick Smith

NO exemptions, Everyone is subject to LAWS