CA Greens join other independent parties in lawsuit against Top Two voting system

November 24, 2011 in State Party News

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Voters representing the Green, Libertarian, and Peace and Freedom parties sued Tuesday over the state’s new open primary system, saying change will deny voters the right to support third-party candidates in general elections.

Under Proposition 14, approved by voters in 2010, all statewide and presidential candidates will run in a single primary that is open to all registered voters regardless of their political party. The top two vote-getters will then move on to the general election.

Prop. 14 proponents believe the change will result in more moderate, less partisan representatives and ultimately a more effective government. But third-party supporters say the new system will disenfranchise voters because it will result in only Democrats and Republicans competing in general election contests.

“This is really a lawsuit about keeping the field of political debate open,” said attorney Michael Siegel. “Proposition 14 narrows the political debate by saying only two candidates can participate in general elections, and we think that’s unconstitutional because many Supreme Court cases have said you can’t have a barrier to small parties competing in the general election.”

5 responses to CA Greens join other independent parties in lawsuit against Top Two voting system

  1. This is for State and Congressional elections, not Presidential:,_the_Top_Two_Primaries_Act_%28California_2010%29

    “(f) Presidential Primaries. This act makes no change in current law as it relates to presidential primaries.”

    If we can’t overturn this we need to organize strongly for the June 5th election and get as many 2nd place finishes as possible. Whether Green, P&F, Libertarian or Independent. We might be able to get a few candidates on the ballot in November, once we’ve done that we will be able to focus on supporting those campaign.

  2. I’d also love to see the Greens and other lovers of democracy respond to this attack on voter choice by organizing for pro-voter choice reforms. Instant runoff voting is already successfully used in a number of CA cities – how about an effort to put it up for a statewide initiative? After all, IRV does all of the good things that Top Two is supposed to (but doesn’t), with none of Top Two’s drawbacks (which, unlike the supposed benefits, are quite real).

    • There is actually a lot of attacks on IRV going on in Oakland and in San Francisco.

      I met with an activist in Denver at one of the Green Party meetings there that introduced me to Approval Voting. I’ve been trying to get the SFGP to introduce this as a “reform” to IRV. It is much simpler, cheaper to institute, and relieves the problem with some who may have only received 10% in the first round going on to win (which is the chief argument against IRV in Oakland).

      Approval Voting allows voters to vote, or “approve of,” as many candidates as they wish, and the candidate who is approved by the most voters wins. Pretty simple.

  3. I think it’s very good that differing parties’ voters are considering working with people and candidates from the other parties.

    Perhaps the other parties will reciprocate, and consider putting a LP candidate as VP on their ticket too?

    If communication was better, then we could work a lot better at this and unite as a coordinated team for the good of the American people.

    We’ll need to expand our influence faster, so bringing in the other party’s losers in the upcoming primaries ASAP and considering them as our own would only help us expand the big tent.

    A Stein, Barr, Johnson, Bachmann as VP on a Libertarian ticket would be phenomenal, I just can’t see how this will hurt the efforts of the team.

    The Missouri primary is a good place to start.

  4. For the United States Senate contests, this will be a direct violation of the Seventeenth Amendment. For all others it is merely a violation of the First Amendment.