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Repeal Top Two Elections in California

The Green Party believes democracy is enhanced by giving voters a real opportunity to vote for and elect representatives who reflect their views. Top Two reduces voter choice and takes us further from that goal.

Top Two only allows two candidates on the General Election ballot, increases 'vote-splitting' in the primary, drives smaller parties off the ballot, eliminates write-in voting, and makes primary elections more expensive.

Greens support a full range of parties on the general ballot that reflect the diversity of political viewpoints within California — and an electoral system that allows them all to run candidates and win seats in proportion to their percentage of the popular vote. 

To promote fuller and fairer representation, the Green Party supports eliminating Top Two and replacing it with multi-seat districts elected by proportional representation.

As a first step, the Green Party of Los Angeles County requests that the California State Assembly Committee on Elections and the State Senate Standing Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments both convene a public inquiry process, with public hearings around the state, to review California’s top two experiment and alternatives to it — including proportional representation for the state legislature and ranked choice voting for single-seat, statewide office. 

News coverage, commentaries, analyses & debates about Top Two's negative aspects

The Only Five Times A California Green Has Advanced to the General Election Under Restrictive Top Two Elections. By Mike Feinstein Green Pages Newspaper of the Green Party of the United States. August 8, 2022

Topsy-turvy top-two: Is California primary system keeping its promises? By Ben Christopher, CalMatters. June 13, 2022

News Analysis: Ten years later, California’s ‘top two’ primary isn’t always what it seems. By John Myers. Los Angeles Times. June 9, 2022

Why California Should Learn from Maine and Not Alaska on Electoral Reform. By Michael Feinstein. Independent Voter Network. December 28, 2020

California's Top-Two Voting System Keeps Leaving Voters Without Options. By Scott Shackford. Reason Magazine. December 11, 2018

• Despite Close Congressional Races, California Must Change its Election System. By Michael Feinstein. Fox and Hounds Daily. November 5th, 2018

By Using The Wrong Comparisons, California Hides Big Collapse In Turnout. By Joe Mathews. Fox and Hounds Daily June 28, 2018.

CA120: Deconstructing California’s top-two primary. By Paul Mitchel. Capitol Weekly. June 27, 2018

Commentary: The problem with California’s primary. By Scott Lemieux, Commentary. Reuters. June 6, 2018

• California’s “top two” primary chaos, explained. By Andrew Prokopan. Vox Magazine, June 5, 2018

• How “Top Two” Primaries Undermine Democracy. California’s system is designed to defang political parties. That’s the problem. By Jamelle Bouie. Slate Magazine. June 05, 2018

California’s Jungle Primary Might Screw Over Both Parties. By Nathaniel Rakich. FiveThirtyEight. June 5, 2018

California’s open primaries are a cautionary tale about political reform. By Dan Balz, Washington Post. June 3, 2018 

• California’s ‘Top-Two’ Primary Debacle. By David Faris. HuffPost. May 31, 2018

• Opinion: Top-two voting is undemocratic, but Californians say they support it. They should give other systems a try. By Michael Feinstein. Special to the Los Angeles Times. May 25, 2018

• Top Two Malfunctions, Democracy Suffers. By Michael Feinstein. Fox and Hounds Daily.  May 18th, 2018

Op-Ed: California’s ‘jungle primary’ isn’t working. We need election reform 2.0. By Andrew Gumbel. Special to the Los Angeles Times. May 18, 2018 

• California’s free-for-all primary election rules could surprise everyone in 2018 … again. By John Myers. Los Angeles Times. March 19, 2018 

• What isn’t on California's ballot today: real choiceBy Michael Feinstein, Special to The Los Angeles Times. November 8, 2016.     

• Presidential Race Shows Fallacy Of California’s Top Two Primary SystemBy Michael Feinstein. Fox and Hounds Daily. November 8, 2016

• Op/Ed: Top-two reform tilts California toward one-party rule. By Larry Gerston, Special to The Los Angeles Times. October 5, 2016.     
• Op/Ed: Top-two primary creates barriers to voter choice. By Michael Feinstein. Special to The Sacramento Bee. June 5, 2016

Top-Two Primary Limits Voters’ Choices. By Steven Greenhut. Hoover Institute. May 31, 2016

How California’s U.S. Senate ballot could cause problems for the June 7 primary. by John Myers, Los Angeles Times. April 25, 2016 

Why has Top Two passed in two states and failed in two others? By Mike Feinstein and Richard Winger. Green Pages, newspaper of the Green Party of the United States. April 30, 2015

Top-Two Fracturing. By Pete Peterson. City Journal. February 27, 2015

• Audio: Is California's Top-Two Primary System Blocking Third-Party Candidates?KQED Forum. Hosted by John Myers, with Michael Feinstein, Green Party of California; Eric McGhee, policy fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, Kim Alexander, president and founder of the California Voter Foundation, and Chad Peace, legal strategist for the Independent Voter Project (IVP). October 16, 2014

• The Primaries Project: Blanket Primaries Have Yet to DeliverBy Alexander R. Podkul and Elaine Kamarck, Brookings Institution. October 10, 2014.

• Come November, what's a fringe voter to do in this top-two systemBy Scott Martelle, Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2014

• Oregon Citizens Sniff Out the Top Two Primary. By Joe Mathews. Fox & Hounds. September 15, 2014

• Chuck Schumer wants the U.S. to adopt a top-two primary system. But is it working?. By Jaime Fuller, Washington Post, July 22, 2014

• Fix the Top Two Primary: Admirable Goals Don’t Justify Indefensible Outcomes. Anthony Ramicone, Rob Richie, Drew Spencer, FairVote. June 11, 2014

• California’s Top-Two Primary Eliminates Third-Party Rivals. By Ellen Brown. June 8, 2014

• 'Top-two' primary elections spell end for many minor partiesBy John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle. May 27, 2014

• Viewpoints: More mischief in ‘top-two’ primary systemBy Steve Maviglio. Special to the Sacramento Bee. Friday, May 23, 2014

• Viewpoints: Top-two primary system is eliminating diverse political expression. By Michael Feinstein, Special to The Sacramento Bee. May 6, 2014

• Top-two primary might be bad for small-party candidatesBy Seema Mehta and Jean Merl. Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2014

• In statewide debut, top-two primary blocks third parties from June ballotBy John Hrabe, CalNewsroom. February 14, 2014

• California Turnout in Special Elections Has Declined by One-Third Since Top-Two Rules Came into ForceBy Richard Winger, Ballot Access News. December 21, 2013

• Top Two Elections and their Effects on the Smaller PartiesA joint statement from the Green Party, Libertarian Party and Peace and Freedom Party. May 23, 2013

• The Top-Two Verdict: Little Gains, Plenty of Costs. The top-two system produced few little gains -- not nearly enough to make up for its costsBy Joe Mathews, PropZero. Novmeber 21, 2012

• California electoral reform fails its first testBy Steven Hill. Sacramento Bee. November 16, 2012

• Hea to Head: Should California keep 'top-two' primary? By Ben Boychuk and Pia Lopez. Sacramento Bee. October 24, 2012

• How Prop 14 weakened democracy. Elections are supposed to be about choice. But with minor party candidates marginalized and only two spots in a general election, voters have far less to choose fromBy Keith Smith, opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. October 24, 2012.

Proposition 14 and California’s Minor Parties: A Case Study of Electoral Reform and Party Response. By Keith Smith, Department of Political Science, University of the Pacific

• Welcome to the Top-Two Bloodbath. By Mark Paul, The California Fix Blog. October 17, 2012

• Viewpoints: Top-two primary hurt competition in the Golden StateBy Steven Hill. Special to The Sacramento Bee. August 4, 2012

• Attack of the goo-goos. Good-government types promised their reforms would fix things. They were wrongBy Joe Mathews, special to the Los Angeles Times. June 10, 2012

• California primary results: GOP catches a ‘top-two’ break. By Editorial Staff, Red Alert Politics. June 6, 2012

California’s Minor Parties Facing Extinction Under New Voting System. By Josh Richman. San Jose Mercury News, June 1, 2012.

• Louisiana Experience Shows Top-Two Systems Make it Easier for Incumbents to be Re-Elected Than in a Normal Partisan Nomination SystemRichard Winger, Ballot Access News. May 20, 2012

Is the Party Over? Examining the Constitutionality of Proposition 14 as It Relates to Ballot Access for Minor Parties.  By Jessica Levinson. Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, 44:463–512. (2011)

• Blowback: The Prop. 14 bait-and-switch. By Michael Feinstein. Special to the Los Angeles Times. June 5, 2010

• KPPC Radio Debate: Proposition 14 - creates a top-two primary election. Featuring California Green Michael Feinstein. May 29, 2010

• Opinion: Prop 14 is Bad for Smaller Parties, Bad for Democracy Overall. By Michael Feinstein. Special to Fox and Hounds Daily. May 27, 2010

• Video: Green Party Opposes Prop 14. Television ad by the Green Party of California. May 20, 2010

• Opinion: Prop. 14 would weaken democracy, voter choice. By Michael Feinstein. Special to the San Jose Mercury News. May 12, 2010

• Proposition 14: No, No, No. Elections: Restricts November choices & alters primary election. Green Voter Guide, Green Party of Alameda County. May 8, 2010

• Editorial: Proposition Will Make Our Broken Two-Party Political System Even Worse. By Ann Menasche, Green Party Candidate for Secretary of State. East County Magazine. April 15, 2010

• Prop 14 takes away voters’choices at ballot, gives more power to big corporations. By Ann Menasche, Green Party Candidate for Secretary of State. Green Focus, newspaper of the Green Party of California. April 15, 2010

• Opinion: Thirteen Reasons To Vote No on Prop 14/Top Two Why Prop 14 would be bad for democracy and government in California. By Mike Feinstein. Green Focus, newspaper of the Green Party of California. April 15, 2010

• Video: Top Two Primary/Proposition 14 Debate: Feinstein vs. Gesicki. Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee Debate. April 4, 2010

• Will Proposition 14 Kill Third Parties? By John Seiler. California: Watchdog,February 19, 2010

‘Top two’ isn’t the one. By Steven Hill. Special to the Los Angeles Times. Feb. 20, 2009

Legal cases against the Top Two

• Green Party of California files amicus brief in Rubin v. Bowen against Top Two primary. August 7, 2014

• Rubin v. Bowen - a lawsuit to end Top Two elections in California. Filed November 22, 2011

• Charles Munger Jr.'s fee claim may chill public interest suits. The multimillionaire seeks $243,000 for legal fees he incurred when an activist sued to overturn one of Munger's previous initiatives. By Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times. October 31, 2012

• Video: Legal case against Top Two Primaries, Proposition 14 and SB 6 - Richard Winger and Gautam Dutta (28:56) May 1st, 2011 - A summary of the legal arguments against the Top Two primary (Proposition 14 in California, Initiative 872 in Washington State), as well as Proposition 14's implementing statute in California, Senate Bill 6. Presentation includes a status update of the legal cases against both. Featuring Richard Winger of Ballot Access News and Gautum Dutta, attorney against SB6. Filmed at the General Assemby of the Green Party of California. May 1st, 2011. Berkeley, California.

• Senate Bill 6 / Proposition 14 Lawsuit: Media Releases | Court Documents | News Coverage | Videos

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