Analysts Say Top-Two Primary Right for Independent Shift in CA Electorate

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Eligible voters in California stand around 24 million, and roughly 17.6 million (nearly three-fourths) are registered to vote, according to the latest report released by the secretary of state.  Since 2010, registration for the Democratic Party has dropped one percentage point to 43.6 percent and Republicans have dropped two percentage points to 28.7 percent.

Since 1997, California’s “No Party Preference” voter registration has climbed 11.9 points to 20.9 percent. Another 6.8 percent of voters claim allegiance to smaller third parties, such as the American Independent, Green, Peace and Freedom, Americans Elect, and the Libertarian Party, leaving voters not affiliated with a major party at 27.7 percent.

The growing discontent with Congress among Americans is well known and documented, and citizens are responding by shifting away from supporting one party or one ideology. In California, the shift to “No Party Preference” has been a consistent trend for decades.

Reasons for identifying outside the standard two party system are as widespread and diverse as the independent voters themselves, leaving Republicans and Democrats to scramble around looking for a means to appease this portion of the electorate. Even though the population is frustrated about the stalemate in Congress, there are often no other viable options outside of the standard two parties for the public to turn to.

According to a Gallup poll, Congress recently received a near all-time low 13 percent approval rating among Americans. However, roughly 46 percent of Americans approve of their own congressman. The inability for many Americans to link their congressman’s role within the larger context of the House of Representatives is one major way Congress falls victim to party politics.

However, the nonpartisan top-two primary system, established by California’s Proposition 14 in June 2010, allows voters to vote for any candidate on a single ballot and the top two candidates with the most votes proceed, regardless of party affiliation. Proponents believe this proposition will reduce the polarization of candidates as they will have to look beyond their base for support.

“That means that candidates in California can no longer count on securing their own party’s base as a formula for making it to a general election,” The Christian Science Monitor reports. “That change in the election rules encourages reaching beyond party lines and consensus-building, some analysts say.”

Political scientist Lara Brown even claims, “[it] could revolutionize California’s politics and usher in a new electoral movement in the country.”

Here lies the silver lining for independent voters. The upcoming Californian primary elections offer voters a chance to effectively respond to the discontent seen in the House, and to elect a candidate who will support policies based on the likelihood of bettering the nation, rather than succumb to party affiliation.

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. Steve Pickard Until Citizens United is repealed this is a horrible idea.
  2. rbwinn3 RPG - the Reform Party Guy rbwinn3  Free and open elections have to be re-established.  That means elections in which independent voters are allowed to vote and be candidates for office.  The reason why independent candidates are unsuccessful so far is because they allow themselves to be dragged into party contentions which have no relevance instead of stating the obvious, which is, These two corrupt major parties are not giving us good government.   Then when the party- controlled media confronts the independent candidate and says, What right do you have to spoil this election by being an independent candidate?, the independent candidates should tell them, I believe in free and open elections.  Why don't you take an opportunity on election day to go to the polls and vote for the candidate of your choice? That keeps the focus on the real problem instead of on party-manufactured issues.  So what should independent voters use to unite themselves?  Only one thing:  free and open elections.  When those are re-established, Americans can decide for themselves.  Until they are re-established, independent voters are different from political party members in that they want free and open election, while party members want party-controlled elections in which only party candidates can be elected.
  3. rbwinn3 Paul S rbwinn3  The golden age of independent candidates existed before the election of 1800 when there were no organized political parties in the United States, and political parties were unpopular in the United States.  Even in the election of 1800, all candidates could have been called independent candidates because there was no party designation on the ballot by their names.  Voters just were expected by party leaders to be informed enough about who were Federalists and who were Republican-Democrats to vote for their own party.  After 1800 the Federalist Party was so ineffective that it went defunct in 1816.  But the success of Jefferson's party in the election of 1800 brought an end to the power of independent voters in American government, as from that time until this, the majority of voters identified themselves as party members.  But now that is going to end.  Before the end of this year, there will be more independent voters than party members.
  4. rbwinn3 DougGoodman rbwinn3 Paul S   Even if there were large numbers of independent candidates in the 2014 election, I would not expect to see many of them elected.  Party-controlled elections do not work that way.  What I would expect to see is a dramatic increase in the rate of independent voter registration.  As I said, the battle is already won.  It is just a matter of time before the two-party system says, Uncle.
  5. rbwinn3 Paul S rbwinn3 Reynolds4California DougGoodman  Well, I understand the reasoning behind the support of top two primaries by independent voters, but I do not see them as a great benefit to independent voters.  Admittedly, it increased the number of independent candidates  in California, which is a good thing, but the ultimate effect, in my opinion, is to make independent voters like party voters and independent candidates like party candidates.  In other words, political offices remain the domain of the wealthy and well publicized in society.   With regard to primaries, I think the best way to approach that question is to review why primary elections exist.  Before 1907 there were no primary elections.  That year Democrats and Republicans agreed that it would be a good time to stop the Populist movement and put more power in the hands of party leaders, so party primaries were invented.   Independent voters did not figure into the equation because there were so few independent voters.  Minorities had no rights in government at that time other than whatever rights the two major parties might acceed to them.  The effect was to give the claim to Republicans and Democrats that they were national parties the same way England had two national parties or the Fascist Party became a national party in Italy or the National Socialists became a national party in Germany. Being a national party enables a party to claim the right to be supported from public revenues, which is what public funded primary elections signify.   So I think the best way for independent voters to approach this question is for them to say, If I pay for an election, I want to vote in it.  If Democrats and Republicans want to pay for their own primary elections the way the Libertarian Party does, then I see no reason for me to be voting in their primary election.  On this question, traditionally, Republicans are the most hostile to independent voters, while Democrats tend to pretend to be more inclusive.   Party primaries do no good for independent voters.  Independent voters need to represent themselves in government.  Party primaries are a problem for political parties.  Independent voters need to take whatever election laws that exist and do the best they can with them as candidates for office with the immdeiate goal of registering voters.  If they do that, they will gain control of this government and re-establish free and open elections.
  6. DougGoodman rbwinn3 DougGoodman Paul S  Independent candidates do not automatically attract independent voters. If you ask 100 voters who are registered or self-identify as independent how many times have they voted for an independent or third-party candidate, I would not be surprised if over 95% said "never" That is because to most self-identified independents the definition is they will vote for either a Republican or Democrat. That is the issue. Please know, I would love to see changes that diminish the impact of the two major parties and make independent and third-party candidates more viable. In fact I am working on a project that if successful will do just that.
  7. rbwinn3 DougGoodman rbwinn3 Paul S  I don't think it is stretching anything.  If members of political parties are protected by the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, then independent voters also should be.  Obviously, the interpretation of courts is that they are not, otherwise, independent voters would be able to vote in elections they are required to pay for.The way you break the hold political parties have is to produce candidates to run against them in elections.  It will happen, but how long it will take remains to be seen.  What would immediately break their power would be for independent voters to start running for all offices the way political party members do. But, you say, Independent candidates would not be treated fairly by the news media and have no chance of being elected.  That is fairly irrelevant.  Independent candidates would increase the rate at which independent voters are registering, and would hasten the downfall of these two corrupt major parties.
  8. DougGoodman rbwinn3 DougGoodman Paul S  rbwinn, Thanks for answering. While I agree that ballot qualification requirements are unfairly designed and applied, I believe arguing from a civil rights or voting rights act stand point is stretching it. The counter argument is that access is not denied. Please note I am playing devil's advocate to some degree. I agree that ballot access requirements need to be equal and that the two major parties should not have the control they do. The challenge is how do we break the hold these two private organizations have over legislative bodies.
  9. Paul S rbwinn3 Paul S Reynolds4California DougGoodman   RB, I never stop recruiting folks to be indendents.   But it isn't the only thing we can be doing.Do you understand why the top-2 was designed as a way to get around the idea that the primary was the purpose of selecting party candidates.  The SCOTUS said the Party may control who votes in the primary if the purpose is to determine only that party's candidate.  The work around was to change the purpose of the primary to letting the public choose the individuals they wished to see advanced to the general election, not elect particular party representation. I might not have that exactly right, Shawn or Alex might do a better job or that than I am.  May I ask, in a perfect world, how you would design primaries, or do you have a way to eliminate them altogether.  I know it's fantasy at this point, just wondering what you vision is.Paul
  10. rbwinn3 Paul S rbwinn3 Reynolds4California DougGoodman  Paul Primary elections were invented in 1907 to stop the Populist movement, the idea coming from Republicans who were joined by Democrats wanting to stop the Populist movement in their party because they had lost multiple elections with Populist William Jennings Bryan as their candidate. Independent candidates should be concentrating on one thing this election, registering voters.
83 comments
Steve Pickard
Steve Pickard

Until Citizens United is repealed this is a horrible idea.

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

It is impossible for an independent to run for office now in most states because of the nomination petition signature requirements put on independent candidates.  The parties have themselves in an impossible position.  They are going to be thrown away like a rotten apple as soon as independent voters gain ballot access.  

Peter Casey
Peter Casey

Indeed, they do. This idea originates from their think tanks. The explicit intent is to shut out third parties in the general election and outsider candidates in primaries.

Peter Casey
Peter Casey

By making sure no third party will be listed in the general election and ensuring only those most beholden to moneyed interests can afford to be heard? Come on.

Peter Casey
Peter Casey

And it eliminates third parties from the general election, which was the original intent of the "reform" (which arose from big party think tanks). It's supposed to stop the "spoiler" effect, in both senses (that is third parties siphoning votes in a general election and "outsider" candidates "disrupting" primaries).

Peter Casey
Peter Casey

IRV an awful, flawed system. Look into it.

Peter Casey
Peter Casey

The top two primary system is explicitly intended to suppress third party voices by eliminating them from the general election. It is also explicitly intended to reduce primary challenges outside of the establishment by increasing the effective campaign funding floor. Top two primaries benefit no one but large moneyed interests and political machine insiders.

Patty Hunt
Patty Hunt

As goes California, so does the rest of the states!

Rick_Sincere
Rick_Sincere

The problem with the top-two primary system is that it effectively excludes third-party and independent candidates from the general election ballot.


Given partisan gerrymandering, voters tend to have a choice at the general election of two Democrats or two Republicans, while Libertarians, Greens, etc., have no opportunity to make their case to the general electorate.  Given that primary elections have far lower voter turnouts than general elections, this means that small minorities end up choosing which sole party will be presented to the voters in the general election.


Despite the spin given by proponents of the top-two primary system, this actually reduces choices for voters and is ultimately undemocratic.

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

I feel that the Top 2 does afford me a better chance at a successful run than otherwise. This combined with what effectively is a one party state, allows for potential voter outreach to get enough people behind some one who is not a Democrat or Republican (such as me) but holds values that reflect a little of both and a lot in between. If somehow I can get enough people behind the idea and advance to the general election vs a Democrat (because that's what it would be right?) I at least might make people think rather than just reacting to an existing ideological perception of a Republican.FYI, no Republican has won an election for Lt. Gov in 30+ years. The last was appointed and could not retain his seat as an incumbent. It is time to generate more political options in CA, take a change in the Primary, the worst that happens is the 2 biggest spending candidates get through anyways (as they would normally) best is that if enough people vote for an Independent, people will have to put thought in during the general election.

Jd Hoover
Jd Hoover

Why just the two, I consider my self Independent

Gene Chaas
Gene Chaas

The two party system is a lasting vestige of the civil war, and its time we all scuttled it. Can you see why everything is still so "black and white" when it needs to be a rainbow?

Bill Pixley
Bill Pixley

there should be totally open primaries with all qualifying followed by partially funded general elections with 5 canddiates and instant runoff. That is the real system that will work

RPG - the Reform Party Guy
RPG - the Reform Party Guy

I think that the American Elect party recently lost its qualified status in California. After American Elect's 2012 online vote debacle, I tried to contact Peter Ackerman about the fate of the California party. He was the party's contact person. True to AE form, he didn't bother to respond. What a shame. AE spent hundreds of thousand of dollars to get qualified and then simply walked away when their plan blew up. AE could have been a vehicle for gathering the discontent, but the folks calling the shots at AE just didn't want to let others play with their toys or even entertain new ideas from outsiders. Such a waste of a valuable asset.

John Thompson
John Thompson

evidently the parties think they have an edge to secure the whole ballot ..

Peter King
Peter King

What happens is that you end up with two candidates from the same party running against each other in the general election. Just makes it more partisan than before.

Michael L. Henry
Michael L. Henry

This could be very problematic for either party. This could liken to any of the European parliamentarian style governments where the would have to build a (hopefully) concessions to elect any lawmaker. If any one has followed European elections the vote is taken out of the individual citizen and given to a committee to elect their lawmakers. The more parties the more problems of security of the votes and confusion leading to disgruntled voters who just may feel that the two party system makes more sense. You think the debacle of the Bush/Gore election was acceptable wait until you have multiple parties arguing over voter fraud. When and where would it end if ever. The Democrats are still smarting over Bush winning. How many elections would be held up in the courts awaiting maybe years to decide and election? We would have to revert to our original electoral process of having only landowners land owners making the call as to who the president will be as it was in the early days of our country. We have way to many politicians masquerading as liberals or conservative running only to revert to their old loyalties thus subverting the entire electoral process. I don't have any answers but I would have to be cautious as to the above question. Political parties set agendas and have an expectation their candidates to follow party norms. No one ever said democracy is an easy form of government since everyone has their own ideas as to how to govern but with little or no schooling on how the governmental process works. It's messy. In my opinion until 20 or 30 years ago both democrats and republicans operated in a manner that was to hash ideas out and come to a concession as to what is the best course for the majority of our nation, today each side seems to hell bent on destroying the other thus leading to a dictatorial conclusion. One part = no votes or liberty. I'm not taking sides just trying to make sense in hopes of a reasonable conclusion. If this makes any sense I am a very conservative Democrat and truly in the middle. Another anomaly in many sectors in the Democratic party of today I am an unabashed Christian. You must take into account that JFK, LBJ, & Jimmy Carter were all Democratic presidents who made no bones about Christian influence in their lives. Something to think about or bash. It's your First Amendment right to disagree with me and I with you and still remain friends. God bless you all.

Terry Brewer
Terry Brewer

Sadly, the fact remains that as long as we only have two parties to choose from, it will never get better and can only change for the worse.

Paul S
Paul S

I"ve spent a great deal of time the last 3 months on a new topic for me personally, different primary election systems.   I believe the top-2 two in California is a huge improvement over closed partisan primaries and I want to first acknowledge that.

Recently I have had a chance to study Approval Voting systems and then meet Mark Frohnmayer of Oregon who is working to put  Unified Primary system on the Novemeber election ballot as a referendum proposal.

The Unified Primary is very similar in most ways to the Top-2.  It also is an open, non-partisan ballot resulting in a top-two general election.  But it has one very significant difference and I think Doug addresses this as well.  The Unified Ballot allows the voter to express support for more than a single candidate which removes the 'wasted ballot' that Doug mentions.  

You may 'approval' as many candidates as you would be willing to see advance to the general election.  (similar to the IRV or Range voting system in that it allow multiple votes).   This allows the voter to express a set of preferences that most closely represent their values, unlike a forced single choice of the 'best' candidate.   How may times have you heard voters say "i voted for the best of two bad choices", or, "I went for the gestalt of candidate A although they have several policies that i do not like"?

What electoral studies has show is that if you allow a single vote you will virtually lock in a two party result.  It is well know that voters will in fact fear 'wasting' their ballot for an unaffiliated or third party candidate, because 'they can't win',  or the voter fears helping a major party candidate they do not like by splitting votes for their favored candidate.

Approval voting allows the voter to freely vote for candidates or positions without compromising their concern for a wasted vote.  If  you are comfortable with say a Republican candidate but want to support a green agenda, you can vote for each. *You still only get ONE vote per candidate, you can't rig this system to gain advantage.

While it does not assure a minor party candidate a win it will show in the results, support for minor party that is many times higher than a plurality(single vote) system will do.   Instead of getting 1% of the vote based on fear or a wasted vote, the result may show the minor party candiate/issue with an approval rate of 40% of voters.   While that may not make the top 2, it will show the minor party support that they can build on over time.    The more candidate in the field the more power the voter has relative to the single vote of plurality system.


This is a new link to the Unified Voting proposal in Oregon.  I recomend at least a visit to the questiona and answer page.   You can of course google many sites that evaluate and rate election system.  Approval voting consistently gets superior ratings for voter satisfaction.


http://www.unifiedprimary.org/

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

The only problem is top-two does not really help independent or third-party candidates as none has made it to the general in any jurisdiction, not only California, that uses top-two. The reason for this, I believe, is that even independents have a difficult time in breaking the two-party mindset and actually voting for a non-major party candidate (wasted vote syndrome). A better system would be a top-three or four open, non-partisan primary.  

Paul S
Paul S

@rbwinn3  Or, they will make significant changes and try to gain a true public majority and not just a Party majority.    I hate to say it, but it's like sports, you want to play with the big boys you are going to need to spend money.   I think that leaves a huge opportunity for corrupting decision making and rewarding greed, but that doesn't mean every representative will grab for the green.

If you think independents or third parties are immune to greed and the temptation of money, I don't think you understand the fallability of humans!  LoL

We need to hold the fire to any candidate to act honestly and represent the will of the people that are in their districts, not just in their party.   Don't listen to the campaign spin, keep watch of what your legislator actually does.  That is a huge amount of work for one person, we need tools as voters that will help us be more involved in governing, not just elections.

Paul S
Paul S

I approve of the top-2 for many reason, none of which is suppressing third parties.   I'm fine with third parties.  I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.   You create the impression of being irrational when you make stereotyping  claims like you are here.   

Third Parties built only on the hate of the 2 major parties will always fail.   It's fine to point out the big structurual obstacles that the big Parties have errected, it's absolutely true.   But my wanting an open and nonpartisan primary system that let's every voter be counted does not mean that I support a particular third party.  My support is for those unaffiliated to any party.

Third parties deserve a fair hearing by the public, they most certainly have that right.   But narrow ideology or just working on populist anger, to me, does not get my support.    I don't vote as a protest for anything, I vote for a person (not a party), who I think will best represent the same interest as I have.

Tell us what you do like/want, not just what you don't like.

Paul S
Paul S

You mean the entire nation is moving north into Oregon and Washington?   Dang it!   ;-)

Reynolds4California
Reynolds4California

@RPG - the Reform Party Guy  Per conversations I have had with local County Registrars and the SOS, AE is still a party. There is precedence for keeping a party that does not maintain a high enough registered membership, on the rolls. Will this happen if a state wide candidate does not receive enough votes? Also I believe there is an Assembly bill that would change how parties get qualified and stay qualified. (still need 2% in a statewide race though)


Paul S
Paul S

Not a Democrat or Republican, but I am a Christian.  I actually do not like saying that very much, because now ever reader is making assumptions about my belief system.   Most are probably wrong, Christians and non-Christians.  

I don't have the time to explain my faith -keeping in private was something that was considered a 'polite' thing to do in civil discourse for many decades.  Too bad political people have tried to leverage faith for political reasons.

I think the legislative process, not just elections are now deeply flawed.  We aren't using any of the gains in technology or participative management in government that we are seeing come to the front in the Private sector.   

Here's a very good article, IMO, about the kind of leadership and team organization that would serve the public much better than what we have today.  The only thing that keeps us from serious reform of political process is the will to do so.  Sad, the founders did exactly that in their time, I think they would be appalled by the lack of reform in the last 50 years.  

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=0


DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@Paul S  Paul,

The idea of voting for more than one candidate in the primary is very interesting. I am interested to know how Oregonians receive this idea. 

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@DougGoodman  The problem is that since about 1970 when independent voters started increasing significantly, party politicians have been busy little bees at state level passing state election laws that make it impossible for independent candidates to get on the ballot.  while federal courts consistently rule that independent voters and minor parties are not protected by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or the Civil Rights Act and only have the right to be slaves of the two-party system.  Top two does nothing for independent voters.  It was invented by Democratic Party politicians in order to insure that their candidates have a monopoly in California.

Alex_G
Alex_G moderator

@DougGoodman Interesting points Doug, but shouldn't a candidate's goal be getting in office, not just making it to the general election? Were many third-party candidates elected to office under the previous partisan system? 

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@Paul S @rbwinn3  Independents cannot defeat party candidates by doing what party candidates do.    The big boys are independent voters.  Then you have two small political parties that call themselves the two-party system.  

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@Paul S  Top two was invented by Democratic Party politicians as a means of diverting the attention of independent voters into party contentions.  It has the good effect of increasing the number of independent candidates, but increases the power of the Democratic Party by teaching independent voters that their best hope is to become a political party which will replace the Republican Party in the two-party system.  

What independent voters need to do is ignore party primary elections and fight for what independent voters once had, direct access to the general election ballot by petition of the voters.  That means decreasing the nomination petition requirements so that independent voters can be candidates.  

The fact that political parties require their candidates to have large sums of money does not take away the right of individual Americans to be candidates for office, which has existed in America since the first elections were held.  

Paul S
Paul S

@DougGoodman @Paul S  I'm interested in your idea to use IRV as well.   


I've been trying hard to look at the perspective of minor parties and unaffiliated candidates.  For you Doug, is the drawback for third parties the timing of primaries vs the general?   

Is the feeling the most voters have a much lower interest in the primary than the general election so third parties want to be in the general election when they think voter interest is highest?

If we look at primaries purpose as narrowing the field and not just as nominating party candidates, do you have some hope for generating more interest from the public up front in the primaries?  Did voter participation go up in California much with the top-2 in place?  *might be a learning curve at work.

.




Reynolds4California
Reynolds4California

@rbwinn3 @DougGoodman  I feel that the Top 2 does afford me a better chance at a successful run than otherwise. This combined with what effectively is a one party state, allows for potential voter outreach to get enough people behind some one who is not a Democrat or Republican (such as me) but holds values that reflect a little of both and a lot in between. If somehow I can get enough people behind the idea and advance to the general election vs a Democrat (because that's what it would be right?) I at least might make people think rather than just reacting to an existing ideological perception of a Republican. 


FYI, no Republican has won an election for Lt. Gov in 30+ years. The last was appointed and could not retain his seat as an incumbent. It is time to generate more political options in CA, take a change in the Primary, the worst that happens is the 2 biggest spending candidates get through anyways (as they would normally) best is that if enough people vote for an Independent, people will have to put thought in during the general election.

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@Alex_G @DougGoodman  Alex,

Exactly. However, if an independent or third-party does not make it to the general, they can't get elected. Under the partisan system, those candidates are lucky to get a couple of percentage points of the vote and that was if they qualified for the ballot at all. I strongly believe that the chances of an independent or third-party candidate making it to the general under a top three or four would be high. As the field would be limited to the three or four candidates, their chances of being elected I believe would also increase. The ideal system would be to combine the top three or four primary with IRV in the general. With that system, I strongly feel we would see independents or third-party candidates win. 

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@DougGoodman @rbwinn3 @Paul S  

Even if there were large numbers of independent candidates in the 2014 election, I would not expect to see many of them elected.  Party-controlled elections do not work that way.  What I would expect to see is a dramatic increase in the rate of independent voter registration.  As I said, the battle is already won.  It is just a matter of time before the two-party system says, Uncle.

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@rbwinn3 @DougGoodman @Paul S  Independent candidates do not automatically attract independent voters. If you ask 100 voters who are registered or self-identify as independent how many times have they voted for an independent or third-party candidate, I would not be surprised if over 95% said "never" That is because to most self-identified independents the definition is they will vote for either a Republican or Democrat. That is the issue. Please know, I would love to see changes that diminish the impact of the two major parties and make independent and third-party candidates more viable. In fact I am working on a project that if successful will do just that.

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@DougGoodman @rbwinn3 @Paul S  I don't think it is stretching anything.  If members of political parties are protected by the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, then independent voters also should be.  Obviously, the interpretation of courts is that they are not, otherwise, independent voters would be able to vote in elections they are required to pay for.The way you break the hold political parties have is to produce candidates to run against them in elections.  It will happen, but how long it will take remains to be seen.  What would immediately break their power would be for independent voters to start running for all offices the way political party members do.

But, you say, Independent candidates would not be treated fairly by the news media and have no chance of being elected.  That is fairly irrelevant.  Independent candidates would increase the rate at which independent voters are registering, and would hasten the downfall of these two corrupt major parties.

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@rbwinn3 @DougGoodman @Paul S  rbwinn,

Thanks for answering. While I agree that ballot qualification requirements are unfairly designed and applied, I believe arguing from a civil rights or voting rights act stand point is stretching it. The counter argument is that access is not denied. Please note I am playing devil's advocate to some degree. I agree that ballot access requirements need to be equal and that the two major parties should not have the control they do. The challenge is how do we break the hold these two private organizations have over legislative bodies. 

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@DougGoodman @rbwinn3 @Paul S  Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of Congress originated in the suppression of rights of black people in the South by political parties, specifically, in their right to particpate in elections.  So, in light of this legislation, what would happen if a political party or party faction said, A black person or a woman, or someone in a wheel chair has no right to be a candidate for office in our political party.  That political party would either have to change its policy, or it would cease to exist.  What if a party said, White people only have to get half as many signatures to get on the ballot as black people.  ?  That would not last very long.  

But in order to run for office in Arizona as an independent voter, I have to get about seven times as many nomination petition signatures as a Democrat or Republican.  Federal courts say that is just fine, most recently in an Alabama case where an independent candidate contested similar signature requirements.  So as independent voters we are not in doubt about what is happening.  We are excluded from the protection of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by federal courts.  It is as simple as that.

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@Paul S @DougGoodman @rbwinn3  There is nothing the two major parties can do.  If they make any attempt at anything like they did in Arizona in 2005, removing the option to register independent from the Arizona voter registration form, it will be publicized nationwide with or without the news media, which was not true in 2005.  The news media refused to acknowledge what had happened, but it made little difference.  Within two years independents were back up to about half of their previous rate of registration, which had been exponential, and both major parties started losing voters in Arizona.  Independents passed Democrasts in Arizona in 2009 and will soon pass Republicans in numbers.  Actually independents are in a better position in Arizona, North Carolina, etc., than in California, where they have been trying to play party primaries.  Once they pass Republicans in numbers, the Republican Party will have to decide whether to continue opressing independent voters or to support them.  Republicans are very dense in terms of political direction, but it is Democrats who stand to lose the most from election of independent candidates.  

The implosion of the Republican Party in the election of 2012 was the beginning of the end for the two-arty system.  That puts the Democratic Party where they were in 1800, as a one-party monopoly. The difference is that the country  has come to hate political parties, whereas, in 1800 the people believed that if they followed party leaders like Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson, they could solve the problems of the nation.  No one is that niave now.  They will not be able to sustain a one-party monopoly.  That gives Democrats the option of propping up Republicanism while oppressing independent voters in order to assure party members of the viability of the two-party system.  It can only work until there are more independent voters than party members.  That gives them less than a year, by my calculations.  Then their party is going to fail the way the Republican Party did.  

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@DougGoodman @Paul S @rbwinn3  Elections are what changes government.  The parties have concentrated on judicial decree as the force of change for two hundred years, assigning legislatures a minor role of codifying judicial decrees.  First they were decreeing slavery.  When that didn't work, they decreed economic and political control.  But now the voters are abandoning them.  What can they do?

Watch for a requirement of party membership in order to hold public office or participate in the government.  Right now that comes to us in the form of federal court decisions that designate independent voters as being not protected by the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

Suppose that a race, sex, or nationality was subjected to the constraints placed on independent voters.  As long as they were party factions, federal courst would say the law protects their rights.  

What can go wrong with a system like this.  What can go wrong has already gone wrong.  The two major parties have no means of stopping independent voter registration, and it is too late in any event.  

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@Paul S @DougGoodman @rbwinn3  From my discussions, there is a general feeling they have to address the concerns. Of course, the concentration is on the election but they realize their actions have an impact.

Paul S
Paul S

@DougGoodman @Paul S @rbwinn3  Did you get any sense of how the Party is going to react to the increase in Indenpendents.    My impression is that they will make direct appeals to unaffiliated voters in the political/election side of their work.   Will it make a lot of difference in how they govern, I doubt it, not unless we figure out wayt to get more input from the people on specific legislation.

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@Paul S @rbwinn3  Paul,

For several months now I have been talking to state legislators. Without exception, they know this is happening and is a trend that cannot be ignored. 

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@Paul S @rbwinn3  Well, that is what will happen even if nothing else does.  But what will also happen is that the number of independent candidates will increase.  As the number of independnet candidates increases, the number elected will increase.  Then people will see the advantage of electing independents to office.  They are not voting against themselves when they do.

As I said, the fact that the two-party system can borrow a trillion and a half dollars every year and use part of it to pay the news media to be a propaganda agency for two-party corruption does not have the same result here as it did in Europe for parties like the Nazis, Fascists, etc.  If the parties are so good, why are people here abandoning them?

As I said before, they are done here because they have failed to provide good government.

Paul S
Paul S

@rbwinn3 @Paul S  Well, maybe the best thing that can happen right now is that people just keep registering as independent/unaffiliated until the number are overwhelming!

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@Paul S @rbwinn3  The golden age of independent candidates existed before the election of 1800 when there were no organized political parties in the United States, and political parties were unpopular in the United States.  Even in the election of 1800, all candidates could have been called independent candidates because there was no party designation on the ballot by their names.  Voters just were expected by party leaders to be informed enough about who were Federalists and who were Republican-Democrats to vote for their own party.  After 1800 the Federalist Party was so ineffective that it went defunct in 1816.  But the success of Jefferson's party in the election of 1800 brought an end to the power of independent voters in American government, as from that time until this, the majority of voters identified themselves as party members.  But now that is going to end.  Before the end of this year, there will be more independent voters than party members.

Paul S
Paul S

@rbwinn3 @Paul S  Nonsense.   I know from California Organizer that Democrats hate the top 2.  I've only been working on it in Oregon a short time and the Democratic party hates it here to.  The PARTY doesn't want  to lose the ability to pick their own shill.  They do NOT want unaffiliated voters chosing their candidates or even having much say.   Why would they want to cut the puppets lose from the Party control? 


When was it ever easy for an independent to win an election.  You either have to an millionaire, Perot, Bloomberg, or have made your reputation already as a party memeber, Libermann


Just when did this 'golden age' of independent candidates exist?


We both support independents, or in my case unaffiliated with ANY party. (maybe you too, I may be getting confused about what you want?)


p.s.  I would not be unhappy with advancing more candidate to the final, but you wont' get a majority winner.


Paul

Paul S
Paul S

@DougGoodman @Paul S  My daughter is now living and working in Minneapolis, I'll have to check with her and see what she says (although she hasn't seen an election cycle yet,


On another note, most people are confused about one man, one vote.   What it refers to is that representatives much be equally assigned per equal populations.  Oregon can not have a congressman for every 150,000 thousand people, and New York have representatives for every 250,000 people.  It's intent and history says you get a Congressman for the same number of citizens no matter where you live in the United States. 

There has been no successful challenge to a voting system that allows voters to cast a vote for mulitiple candidates.

Multiple votes isn't unfair by law or math!

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@Paul S @DougGoodman  Paul,

I'm not really looking at timing.of the elections. My focus, for several years has been how can independent and third-party candidates become more viable and / or electable. Since changing the mindset of voters away from the wasted vote syndrome is difficult, I believe that being able to vote for that candidate as a second choice would be a viable option that people would embrace. Any system that does this; approval voting, ranking all candidates, etc should be explored. The reason I am pushing IRV is that it is a system that has been around since the late 1800's, is in use, and has voter acceptance. In other words, it stands a better chance of being enacted versus a system that has not been tested. Surprisingly, voter turnout has not seen any significant increase, at least in studies I have read, where top two or IRV has been implemented. The one city that uses IRV that did see very positive results is Minneapolis.  

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@Paul S @rbwinn3 @Reynolds4California @DougGoodman  Well, I understand the reasoning behind the support of top two primaries by independent voters, but I do not see them as a great benefit to independent voters.  Admittedly, it increased the number of independent candidates  in California, which is a good thing, but the ultimate effect, in my opinion, is to make independent voters like party voters and independent candidates like party candidates.  In other words, political offices remain the domain of the wealthy and well publicized in society.  

With regard to primaries, I think the best way to approach that question is to review why primary elections exist.  Before 1907 there were no primary elections.  That year Democrats and Republicans agreed that it would be a good time to stop the Populist movement and put more power in the hands of party leaders, so party primaries were invented.   Independent voters did not figure into the equation because there were so few independent voters.  Minorities had no rights in government at that time other than whatever rights the two major parties might acceed to them.  The effect was to give the claim to Republicans and Democrats that they were national parties the same way England had two national parties or the Fascist Party became a national party in Italy or the National Socialists became a national party in Germany. Being a national party enables a party to claim the right to be supported from public revenues, which is what public funded primary elections signify.  

So I think the best way for independent voters to approach this question is for them to say, If I pay for an election, I want to vote in it.  If Democrats and Republicans want to pay for their own primary elections the way the Libertarian Party does, then I see no reason for me to be voting in their primary election.  On this question, traditionally, Republicans are the most hostile to independent voters, while Democrats tend to pretend to be more inclusive.  

Party primaries do no good for independent voters.  Independent voters need to represent themselves in government.  Party primaries are a problem for political parties.  Independent voters need to take whatever election laws that exist and do the best they can with them as candidates for office with the immdeiate goal of registering voters.  If they do that, they will gain control of this government and re-establish free and open elections.  

Paul S
Paul S

@rbwinn3 @Paul S @Reynolds4California @DougGoodman  

RB, I never stop recruiting folks to be independents.   But it isn't the only thing we can be doing.

Do you understand why the top-2 was designed as a way to get around the idea that the primary was the purpose of selecting party candidates.  The SCOTUS said the Party may control who votes in the primary if the purpose is to determine only that party's candidate.  The work around was to change the purpose of the primary to letting the public choose the individuals they wished to see advanced to the general election, not elect particular party representation.

I might not have that exactly right, Shawn or Alex might do a better job or that than I am.  

May I ask, in a perfect world, how you would design primaries, or do you have a way to eliminate them altogether.  I know it's fantasy at this point, just wondering what you vision is.

Paul

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@Paul S @rbwinn3 @Reynolds4California @DougGoodman  Paul

Primary elections were invented in 1907 to stop the Populist movement, the idea coming from Republicans who were joined by Democrats wanting to stop the Populist movement in their party because they had lost multiple elections with Populist William Jennings Bryan as their candidate.

Independent candidates should be concentrating on one thing this election, registering voters.  

Reynolds4California
Reynolds4California

@Paul S @rbwinn3 @Reynolds4California @DougGoodman  I believe people would argue that more people pay attention in the general election (for better or worse I do not have the numbers). So as in all elections it is a matter of letting people know to go out and vote in the primaries if that is where the choices are. Personally I hope that the Parties fragment their vote, and that a call on Independents to work together is at least somewhat successful, allowing an Independent to sneak through the Top 2 in CA here and there. The more this happens, the more we can show that there are options and opportunities aside from the Republicans and Democrats

Paul S
Paul S

@rbwinn3 @Reynolds4California @DougGoodman  

What factors change in the general election that you don't have in the primary election?   You are still going to be outspent and in a large total field of candidats that will fragment a vote.   

If you can overcome those obstacles, with support from the growing independent voters, you get to be 1 on 1 in the final.  That would be huge improvement.

If anything you might have a chance to sneek up on a Party candidate that is on the wrong side of a gerrrymandered district (the 'out' party will probably not put up much money in a campaign they are sure to lose)

rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@Reynolds4California @rbwinn3 @DougGoodman  Voting in party primaries does little to improve the circumstances of independent voters. any more than voting for American Idol contestants helps to solve the problems of the United States.  Party primaries only benefit parties and give them what they want, the opportunity to proclaim themselves national parties because they are supported by public revenues.  Unless independent voters have what they had until party politicians started excluding them from political candidacy in recent years as their numbers increased, direct access to the general election ballot, the two major parties have what the Fascists had in Italy, the Nazi Party had in Germany, and the Communists had in the Soviet Union.  They are national parties supported by the taxpayers.  The way to oppose political parties is to oppose them in the general election, not as candidates in party primaries.  

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@Reynolds4California @DougGoodman @rbwinn3  Do you have someone doing social media for your campaign? How strong has the 18 - 35 year-old turnout been in 2010 and 2012? Could a social media campaign targeting that demographic give you the boost you may need?  Just some thoughts. 

Reynolds4California
Reynolds4California

@DougGoodman @Reynolds4California @rbwinn3  That would be something wouldn't it? One of the key things about Lt. Gov, is that it it doesn't change the party caucuses (not that they are going to change any time soon) and as such is less threatening. The office has limited power, but is a statewide office and can have an impact as such. So it is a weird combination. Sadly I do not have the numbers or the funding to be blasting this information out to people all over, otherwise my chances might be higher, but I did pay for a candidate statement in the ballot, and maybe it will resonate with people, and there is some time left for GOTV efforts, so we will see if we can make Top 2 successful, or if we need to focus on other systems...

FYI, I think in some of the Assembly races 2 years ago some Independents actually did ok... so I wouldn't be the first, but do have an opportunity to make a difference

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

@Reynolds4California @rbwinn3 @DougGoodman  Top two definitely gives you a better chance than the previous closed primary system. Also, in California where the Dems are solidly in control, you may have a shot depending on who the GOP puts up. While there has not been a GOP in the LT. Governor's chair, there have been Republicans in the Governor's. However, with the current make up of the legislature, I doubt that will be the case in the near future. I wish you luck and will be interested to learn if you become the first independent to make the top two.

Reynolds4California
Reynolds4California

@Paul S @rbwinn3 @DougGoodman  Thanks, right now the biggest hurdle I have is funding structure the major parties have. Trying to get people to donate provides a barrier that candidates of the other parties have an already set up infrastructure and network to work with.

If we can change the voting systems, we will still need to work on voter education, but the more steps we can take towards inclusive election systems, the more opportunity we will have

Paul S
Paul S

@Reynolds4California @rbwinn3 @DougGoodman  Happy to meet you Mr. Reynold's.  The Oregon proposal is a top-2, the only change is in the Primary voting routines.

I completely agree that top-2 improves your chances for election.  A minor party candidate/independent has are real shot at election in a limited size field.  If you make the top-2, then the structure gives you much more equal access to speak with the public.   In a crowed field, minor party candidates get pushed to the side.

Approval voting shows the real support for a new alternative to the major parties.  Because of a single vote and fear of 'wasted votes', plurality voting will NEVER show the true level of acceptance for a new party/independent.   While Approval voting does little to enhance your chance of making the top-2 because of election design, (you still have to win based on ideas and proposals), it will be a much more accurate gauge of your acceptance by the the public.  Good luck.


Reynolds4California
Reynolds4California

@rbwinn3 @DougGoodman  FYI, would I prefer Approval Voting or IRV? Yes. But I think Top 2 is the first step towards more inclusive elections, and we can't get there all in one hop. Hopefully with the voter out reach that is going on with County Registrars Offices by Independent Voter groups, the other 75% of Independents that did not know they could vote in the Primary 2 years ago, will now know and go out and vote and have an impact


rbwinn3
rbwinn3

@DougGoodman @Alex_G  The two major parties borrow a trillion and a half dollars on national credit every year and pay a substantial percentage of it to the news media to insure that the two major parties have exclusive coverage of their candidates in the news.  Primary elections were invented in 1907 to stop the populist movement, which the Republicans did not want in their party and which had caused the Democrats to lose multiple elections with Populist candidate William Jennings Bryan.  Independent voters have to hold out for what they once had, access to the general election ballot.

Alex_G
Alex_G moderator

@DougGoodman @Alex_Gwhat i'd like to see is a number of states that experiment with nonpartisan systems. Ideally each nonpartisan system should be designed to be as fair as possible, so candidates who actually represent voters are the ones who prevail. I dont think it should be about making systems that help this or that party. 


an even playing field so to say