Why California Needs the Top Two Candidates Open Primary

The Top Two Candidates Open Primary initiative is based on Washington State’s primary system, which has already been approved by the US Supreme Court (Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party).

  1. A Top Two Candidates Open Primary allows the two candidates with the two highest vote totals to move on to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. The measure applies to all state and congressional races.
  2. This initiative will appear on the June 2010 primary ballot and, if approved by voters, would take affect in the June 2012 primary elections.
  3. Candidates may choose to declare their party affiliation on the ballot or to designate “No Party Preference.”
  4. The initiative allows for partisan primaries for presidential candidates, political party committees, and party central steering committees.
  5. Currently, mayors, county supervisors, city council members and other citywide office holders are elected via open, nonpartisan primaries.
  6. The Top Two Candidates Open Primary initiative was drafted and refined over a matter of several months by a team of legal authorities – Democrats and Republicans, constitutional experts and litigators – to ensure its validity and effectiveness.

Californians already overwhelming approved the open primary system in 1996.

  1. In 1996, 59.5% of Californians voted in favor of Prop 198.
  2. Prop 198, the open primary initiative, passed in all 58 counties, from Alpine to Alameda and Siskiyou to San Diego.
  3. Prop 198 won at the ballot box but was overturned when the Democratic and Republican Parties came together to defeat the measure in the US Supreme Court (California Democratic Party v. Jones).

The Top Two Candidates Open Primary system better reflects the views and votes of California’s citizens. The current system excludes many Decline to State (DTS) and independent voters, which are the fastest growing voter group in California.

  1. According to the PPIC, Decline to State voters make up nearly a fifth of California’s electorate, with the number of DTS voters exceeding 3 million.
  2. The PPIC also notes that “party ties have grown weaker for Democrats and Republicans since 2004.”
  3. Likely voters under the age of 35 are even less inclined to join the traditional parties, illustrating the evolution of California’s electorate.

Californians are ready to move beyond today’s partisan gridlock and are ready to elect the leaders that better represent their views and interests.

  1. The ongoing budget crisis is a reflection of the partisanship that has taken hold of Sacramento which often prizes ideological purity over the needs of California’s families.
  2. The people of California will have an opportunity to do what the politicians in Sacramento cannot – set aside partisan differences to address the looming challenges that California faces.
  3. The passage of Proposition 11 was a significant first step toward breaking down partisan barriers that prevent legislators from adopting real solutions for California’s problems.