The Emergent Party "Solution": Keep Them Off the Ballot? Now with Post-Election Update!
I'm not sure if this is as bad as it looks, but I'm interested in seeing what other people think. In danps's post on emergent party laziness, I commented that Greens were irrelevant in California, because other than the presidential race, there are none on our ballot. Boy, was I wrong.
Here's "top two" in a nutshell:
Two years ago, California voters approved Proposition 14, which mandates that the top two vote-getters in a primary – regardless of party affiliation – face off in the general election. The new rules apply to Congressional and state legislative races.
Supposedly, the top two approach was designed to give Democrats a super-majority in the California legislature. It has been criticized for setting up D vs D or R v R races in some areas. But more importantly, it also keeps third or emergent party candidates pretty much off the ballot.
The top-two system also means third party candidates are effectively shut out at the state level. The ballot does not include any Green Party candidates below the presidential ticket.
Are people in the other states with top-two (Washington and Louisiana, for now) seeing similar results in terms of limited ballot choices? At the Stop Top Two website, there are five other states that appear to be considering top two legislation (Wyoming, Florida, Mississippi, Colorado, and Arizona), so it looks like this could become more widespread. I don't see how that could be good for those of us who have given up on the two-party system, but I'd really like to hear what other people think about it.
Update: Now that the election is over, it turns out the Top Two strategy did accomplish its stated goal of creating a Democratic supermajority in the state legislature, a move that could mean the end of Republican tyranny and obstructionism, at least in Ca.
Unfortunately, that came at the cost of shutting out emergent parties on the state ballot. Bug/feature? Definitely a feature for Ds and Rs, according to the Peace and Freedom party:
Top Two Elections: Bad for Democracy
In June of this year your ballot changed dramatically. Except for the Presidential primary (which hasn’t changed), you no longer vote in a primary election for candidates to represent your political party in November. Instead, you vote on which two candidates get to run again in the fall. The party labels that appear next to the candidates’ names have little meaning because political parties no longer control the use of their names.
But you aren’t seeing the real change until November, when you have only two choices. They might well both be Democrats or both be Republicans. “Top two” elections relegate small party and independent candidates to June when fewer people turn out to vote. Three Peace and Freedom candidates for the state legislature did make it to the November ballot this year because we took advantage of a one-time opportunity created when only one other candidate was on the ballot. The Republicans and Democrats will see to it that this doesn’t happen again.
Blame Prop. 14, passed in June 2010 as a result of several million dollars worth of advertising by big business friends of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They thought that by weakening political parties, both large and small, they could use their money more efficiently to influence elections. We think it’s unconstitutional and are joining with other plaintiffs to challenge it in court.
I'll see if I can find out more on the legal challenge and post that later.