Thursday, March 11, 2010

Open Primaries -- A Tale of Two States: Arizona Republican Loyalty Test and California Prop 14

Arizona Repubs want to close their primaries to keep independent voters out, and California Dems are pulling out all the stops to try to dissuade voters from supporting Prop 14, the "Top Two" open primary ballot referendum up in June that will allow independents full participation. At issue is whether the political parties or the people have the power.



d.eris said...

I've been reading up a bit more on Prop 14, and still am not clear on all the details. It doesn't seem like it actually establishes an open primary. As I understand it, in an open primary, all voters could vote in all party primary contests in all races, and the point of the primary is to eliminate all candidates but one for each party in each race. But in the "top two" system you can only vote for one candidate in every race, and the "top two" vote getters in each race move on to the general election right? If so, top two seems to be more like turning the general election into a runoff and the primary into the general. But why not just have an actual open primary and then a runoff race following the general election?

Nancy Hanks said...

Damon -- "why not just have an actual open primary and then a runoff race following the general election?" Prop 14's "top two" structure is meant to revise an earlier referendum that was supported by the voters but ruled unconstitutional by the courts. This proposition is modeled on Washington State's primary and, far from perfect, is considered "a start". These issues are not decided in classrooms, there are real politic issues going on, including Sen. Maldonado's brave negotiations around the budget. The question for me, and for many independents, is whether the parties get to decide who can vote in the important first round of voting (commonly called a "primary") -- and often these are the deciding elections, not the general -- OR do voters get a say? Voters are literally being pushed around by the parties in our current political culture. The issue is democracy.

richardwinger said...

California is free to have an open primary, in which there is no such thing as party registration and a voter can choose which party's primary to vote in. 22 states have that and no court has ruled that is unconstitutional.