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Warnings about “top-two primary” measure in California

KW: A colleague of mine noted that the article below, and the strong participation of California State Senator Abel Maldonado [Republican] in this debate, shows that — contrary to some people’s assertions — top-two primaries are something party bosses want (not something that would limit the power of party bosses.)
In the article at Ballot Access News below, ballot access expert Richard Winger takes a point from the pro top-two web-page which claims “all voters will have the opportunity to vote for any candidate they choose” and shows that that statement is entirely incorrect: Under the top-two scenario the California measure proposes, no write-in votes will be counted.

from Ballot Access News
California Author of “Top-Two Open Primary” Sets Up Organization to Campaign for His Measure
December 26th, 2009

California State Senator Abel Maldonado has established an organization to campaign for the “top-two open primary” measure that will be on the ballot in June 8, 2010. It is “Reform for Change”. Here is its web page.

Brandon Gesicki is listed as the organization’s Executive Director, and also the contact for media inquiries.

Gesicki was Senator Maldonado’s campaign manager when the Senator was re-elected in 2008. He is also the Political Director of the Monterey County Republican Party, and a member of the Monterey County Republican Central Committee. He has also been an employee in Senator Maldonado’s legislative office.

The web page says, “The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary election will then compete in the General Election. All voters will have the opportunity to vote for any candidate they choose, which is not an option in the current system.” This is the opposite of the truth. The measure says that write-in votes will never be counted in the general election for Congress and state office. The write-in ban in Senator Maldonado’s bill, SB 6, is in section 8606, and says, “A person whose name has been written on the ballot as a write-in candidate at the general election for a voter-nominated office shall not be counted.”

Under existing law, an independent voter is free to ask for a Republican or a Democratic primary ballot in any Congressional or state office primary. Also, if a Republican candidate files as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary, then registered Democrats can vote for that Republican candidate and their write-ins will be counted. For instance, Maldonado himself filed as a write-in in the 2008 Democratic primary, and he received 533 write-ins from registered Democrats. Another write-in candidate in the 2008 Democratic primary for the same State Senate seat, Dennis Morris, received 2,096 write-ins, overwhelmingly defeating Maldonado for the Democratic nomination. However, Morris didn’t receive the Democratic nomination either, because neither he nor Maldonado met the statutory requirement of polling a number of write-ins equal to 1% of the vote for that office in the last general election.

One Response

  1. Maldonado is a nominal Republican who evidently favors the “top two open primary” because it will enable non-Republicans to vote for him in the first round of voting.

    In the 2004 campaign for Prop. 62 (“open primary”), both major parties as well as the minor parties were opposed. The California Democratic chairman has already come out against the 2010 ballot measure, and I’m sure the parties will again fight this monstrosity. The parties oppose it because (1) they want to be able to officially nominate candidates, and (2) they want to be empowered to have a candidate for each office in the final, deciding election.

    In 2004, Gov. Schwarzenegger, ex-Gov. Pete Wilson, ex-L. A. mayor Richard Riordan, Leon Panetta, and Sen. John McCain were among the backers of Prop. 62. It nevertheless was defeated, losing in 51 of the state’s 58 counties.

    Why should the voters be limited to just two choices per office in the final, deciding election?

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