As the biggest state in the country, the methodology California uses to elect its representatives is vitally important to democracy in America. The very fact that such fundamental dials in our democracy are being played with is enough. There should be huge interest from the American public at large.
The Californian top-two voting system has only been used so many times so this analysis is bit preliminary but it seems that “turnout among registered voters was well over 50 percent in general elections in California in 2010 and 2006. The turnout this year is 37 percent.” This is according to a new article by co-author of the landmark book “California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It” Joe Mathews who is also a contributor to Connecting California, Zócalo Public Square, and the Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University – among other accomplishments.
According to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News, Mathews is essentially saying that “if one conceives of the June event in California as the general election, and then one compares it to past general elections, the top-two system has severely injured voter turnout”. Ballot Access News is usually the best place on the web to get good information about third party candidates but the recent coverage of the California top-two primary system is exceptional even for Ballot Access News editor and election expert Richard Winger.
Two of the leading election policy authorities on California’s top-two system of voting recently went head-to-head in a moderated debate put together by Ballotpedia. The webinar is described by Ballotpedia videos:
Under California’s top-two primary system, all candidates seeking a particular office, regardless of party, appear on the same primary ballot. This system makes it possible for the top two vote-getters who advance to the general election to be from the same party… Both Peace and Winger will bring years of experience to this discussion making it a webinar not to miss.
James Stephen Peace is an interesting character for sure. Peace co-produced the cult hit film ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’ and served 20 years in California’s legislature. He is also the founder of the Independent Voter Project that supports nonpartisan election reforms. The webinar is about 45 minutes. Take a look: