Co Chairs, Steve Peace and Jeff Marston, of The Independent Voter Project (IVP), authors of California’s non-partisan Top-Two Open Primary Initiative (also known as “Proposition 14”) have submitted an initiative to the California Attorney General that takes aim at partisanship at its institutional core: taxpayer funding.
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that political parties are “private” organizations, taxpayers continue to pay for their partisan activities, including elections for party central committee members and party conventions.
These private activities are currently funded by taxpayers — not by the parties themselves — even though the parties repeatedly assert their right of “private association” in their efforts to deny the voting rights of the over 40% of voters who prefer not to state a political party preference.
States across the country spent over $400 million dollars to administer partisan primary elections alone last year. This does not include the untold administrative costs, convention costs, and other local party election costs.
The “End Taxpayer Funding of Political Parties” initiative submitted by IVP would prohibit the State of California from spending taxpayer funds and using state administrative resources to run private party elections. For all public elections, California would continue to administer the state-funded non-partisan primary system whereby all candidates and all voters participate in a single-ballot primary.
Similarly, the initiative would require that the state run a nonpartisan voter-nominated primary election for the office of President. The parties, pursuant to their private right of association, would be allowed to either use those results to select delegates to their conventions, or pay for the extra costs of producing segregated tallies necessary to meet their desire to restrict voter participation, or adopt alternative non-taxpayer financed election systems similar to other private organizations which increasingly make use of online election systems.
Voters who do not belong to a political party face a series of legal and political barriers designed by the political parties to depress voter participation by nonpartisans.
In addition to costing taxpayers millions of dollars, these efforts result in suppressed voter participation, and needlessly lengthen and complicate the ballots put in front of voters.
“End Taxpayer Funding of Political Parties” simply requires that if a party choses to deny meaningful participation by qualified voters, taxpayers would not be required to pay for it.
The entirety of the initiative can be read here: End Taxpayer Funding of Political Parties Initiative