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Sunday, September 20, 2009

LPSF's Winger Writes in Bee Against Top-Two Primaries

Today the LPSF blog reproduced Richard Winger's column in the Sacramento Bee:

In June 2010, California voters will be voting on a ballot measure to revise elections for Congress and state office. The measure would provide that all candidates run on a single primary ballot, and all voters get the same primary ballot. Then, only the two candidates who received the most votes in the primary could be on the November ballot.

Although The Bee has endorsed this ballot initiative, it is a bad idea. In practice, it would eliminate minor party and independent candidates from the November ballot. We know this is true because Washington state tried the system for the first time in 2008, and that's what happened. Washington, for the first time since it became a state in 1889, had no minor party or independent candidates in November for any statewide state race or for any congressional race.

When voters are voting in a primary, they are focusing on which particular Democrat or Republican they want to help. They have no time to pay attention to minor party or independent candidates. So those candidates haven't a prayer of coming in first or second.

Even Jesse Ventura, running for governor of Minnesota in 1998, only got 3 percent of the vote in that state's September primary, which was a classic open primary (any voter could vote in any party's primary; Ventura was running in the Reform Party primary).

But he went on to win the November election. Under the proposal that Californians will be voting on next year, Ventura and candidates like him would be wiped out after the primary is over.

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