[OVC-discuss] SCA 4 - Elections: open primaries

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Wed Feb 25 2009 - 11:36:47 CST

This is one of the stranger developments I have seen in the world of
elections. Maldonado got this through as part of a deal to get the budget
passed. The description "open primaries" seems a bald-faced lie.

As I read it, this provision would eliminate primaries, not make primaries
open. This is really a runoff system. the two top vote getters would make
it to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

(doesn't change presidential primary system, though)

It seems to me that it would increase -- not decrease -- party power.
That's because instead of a primary, the party insiders -- not the voters --
would decide which candidate the party would back.

In 2010, Voters will decide if this proposal should become law. This is
wild. I think Schwartzenegger likes it.

from ca leginfo

******************
BILL NUMBER: SCA 4 CHAPTERED
        BILL TEXT

        CHAPTER 2
        FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE FEBRUARY 19, 2009
        PASSED THE SENATE FEBRUARY 19, 2009
        PASSED THE ASSEMBLY FEBRUARY 19, 2009
        AMENDED IN SENATE FEBRUARY 19, 2009

INTRODUCED BY Senator Maldonado
   (Coauthors: Senators Correa and Wolk)

                        DECEMBER 1, 2008

   A resolution to propose to the people of the State of California
an amendment to the Constitution of the State, by amending Sections 5
and 6 of Article II thereof, relating to elections.

        LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

   SCA 4, Maldonado. Elections: open primaries.
   Existing provisions of the California Constitution require the
Legislature to provide for primary elections for partisan offices,
including an open presidential primary election, as specified. The
California Constitution also provides that all judicial, school,
county, and city offices are nonpartisan offices, and a political
party or party central committee is prohibited from endorsing,
supporting, or opposing a candidate for such an office.
   This measure, which would be known as the "Top Two Primaries Act,"
would provide for a "voter-nominated primary election" for each
state elective office and congressional office in California, in
which a voter may vote at the primary election for any candidate for
a congressional or state elective office without regard to the
political party preference disclosed by the candidate or the voter.
The measure would further provide that a candidate for a
congressional or state elective office generally may choose whether
to have his or her political party preference indicated upon the
ballot for that office in the manner to be provided by statute. The
measure would prohibit a political party or party central committee
from nominating a candidate for a congressional or state elective
office at the primary, but the measure would permit a political party
or party central committee to endorse, support, or oppose a
candidate for congressional or state elective office. The 2
candidates receiving the 2 highest vote totals for each office at a
primary election, regardless of party preference, would then compete
for the office at the ensuing general election. This measure would
require the Legislature to provide for partisan elections for
presidential candidates, political party committees, and party
central steering committees.
   This measure would designate the Superintendent of Public
Instruction as a nonpartisan office.
   If the measure is approved by the voters, it would become
operative on January 1, 2011.

   Resolved by the Senate, the Assembly concurring, That the
Legislature of the State of California at its 2009-10 Regular Session
commencing on the first day of December 2008, two-thirds of the
membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the people of
the State of California that the Constitution of the State be
amended as follows:
  First-- This measure shall be known and maybe cited as the "Top
Two Candidates Open Primary Act."
  Second-- The People of the State of California hereby find and
declare all of the following:
   (a) Purpose. The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act is hereby
adopted by the People of California to protect and preserve the right
of every Californian to vote for the candidate of his or her choice.
This act, along with legislation already enacted by the Legislature
to implement this act, are intended to implement an open primary
system in California as set forth below.
   (b) Top Two Candidate Open Primary. All registered voters
otherwise qualified to vote shall be guaranteed the unrestricted
right to vote for the candidate of their choice in all state and
congressional elections. All candidates for a given state or
congressional office shall be listed on a single primary ballot. The
top two candidates, as determined by the voters in an open primary,
shall advance to a general election in which the winner shall be the
candidate receiving the greatest number of votes cast in an open
general election.
   (c) Open Voter Registration. At the time they register, all voters
shall have the freedom to choose whether or not to disclose their
party preference. No voter shall be denied the right to vote for the
candidate of his or her choice in either a primary or a general
election for statewide constitutional office, the State Legislature,
or the Congress of the United States based upon his or her disclosure
or nondisclosure of party preference. Existing voter registrations,
which specify a political party affiliation, shall be deemed to have
disclosed that party as the voter's political party preference unless
a new affidavit of registration is filed.
   (d) Open Candidate Disclosure. At the time they file to run for
public office, all candidates shall have the choice to declare a
party preference. The preference chosen shall accompany the candidate'
s name on both the primary and general election ballots. The names of
candidates who choose not to declare a party preference shall be
accompanied by the designation "No Party Preference" on both the
primary and general election ballots. Selection of a party preference
by a candidate for state or congressional office shall not
constitute or imply endorsement of the candidate by the party
designated, and no candidate for that office shall be deemed the
official candidate of any party by virtue of his or her selection in
the primary.
   (e) Freedom of Political Parties. Nothing in this act shall
restrict the right of individuals to join or organize into political
parties or in any way restrict the right of private association of
political parties. Nothing in this measure shall restrict the parties'
right to contribute to, endorse, or otherwise support a candidate
for state elective or congressional office. Political parties may
establish such procedures as they see fit to endorse or support
candidates or otherwise participate in all elections, and they may
informally "nominate" candidates for election to voter-nominated
offices at a party convention or by whatever lawful mechanism they so
choose, other than at state-conducted primary elections. Political
parties may also adopt such rules as they see fit for the selection
of party officials (including central committee members, presidential
electors, and party officers). This may include restricting
participation in elections for party officials to those who disclose
a party preference for that party at the time of registration.
   (f) Presidential Primaries. This act makes no change in current
law as it relates to presidential primaries. This act conforms to the
ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Washington State Grange
v. Washington State Republican Party (2008) 128 S.Ct. 1184. Each
political party retains the right either to close its presidential
primaries to those voters who disclose their party preference for
that party at the time of registration or to open its presidential
primary to include those voters who register without disclosing a
political party preference.
  Third-- That Section 5 of Article II thereof is amended to read:
      SEC. 5. (a) A voter-nomination primary election shall be
conducted to select the candidates for congressional and state
elective offices in California. All voters may vote at a
voter-nominated primary election for any candidate for congressional
and state elective office without regard to the political party
preference disclosed by the candidate or the voter, provided that the
voter is otherwise qualified to vote for candidates for the office
in question. The candidates who are the top two vote-getters at a
voter-nominated primary election for a congressional or state
elective office shall, regardless of party preference, compete in the
ensuing general election.
   (b) Except as otherwise provided by Section 6, a candidate for a
congressional or state elective office may have his or her political
party preference, or lack of political party preference, indicated
upon the ballot for the office in the manner provided by statute. A
political party or party central committee shall not nominate a
candidate for any congressional or state elective office at the
voter-nominated primary. This subdivision shall not be interpreted to
prohibit a political party or party central committee from
endorsing, supporting, or opposing any candidate for a congressional
or state elective office. A political party or party central
committee shall not have the right to have its preferred candidate
participate in the general election for a voter-nominated office
other than a candidate who is one of the two highest vote-getters at
the primary election, as provided in subdivision (a).
   (c) The Legislature shall provide for partisan elections for
presidential candidates, and political party and party central
committees, including an open presidential primary whereby the
candidates on the ballot are those found by the Secretary of State to
be recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout
California for the office of President of the United States, and
those whose names are placed on the ballot by petition, but excluding
any candidate who has withdrawn by filing an affidavit of
noncandidacy.
   (d) A political party that participated in a primary election for
a partisan office pursuant to subdivision (c) has the right to
participate in the general election for that office and shall not be
denied the ability to place on the general election ballot the
candidate who received, at the primary election, the highest vote
among that party's candidates.
  Fourth-- That Section 6 of Article II thereof is amended to read:
      SEC. 6. (a) All judicial, school, county, and city offices,
including the Superintendent of Public Instruction, shall be
nonpartisan.
   (b) A political party or party central committee shall not
nominate a candidate for nonpartisan office, and the candidate's
party preference shall not be included on the ballot for the
nonpartisan office.
  Fifth-- This measure shall become operative on January 1, 2011.

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Received on Sat Feb 28 23:17:05 2009

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