JoinCalifornia Correction

A correction: H. B. Ream, a four-term Assemblyman from northern California in the 1910s, was elected as a Democrat in each of his terms. Although he did win the nomination of both the Republican and Democratic parties, an error on JoinCalifornia.com had made it appear that he was elected as a Republican in 1918.

Thank you to Tim Morland of the Office of the Chief Clerk for the correction!

Lawsuit Filed to Challenge Prop 14

A lawsuit has been filed in the Alameda County Superior Court to challenge the new “Top Two Primary” and request an injunction to prevent its use in the 2012 and 2014 elections. The lawsuit was filed Monday against Secretary of State Debra Bowen by Michael Rubin, Manja Argue, Steve Collett, Marsha Feinland, Charles L. Hooper, Katherine Tanaka, C. T. Weber, Cat Woods, the Green Party of Alameda Co., the Libertarian Party of California, and the Peace and Freedom Party of California.

At a press conference outside of the Secretary of State’s office this morning, the plaintiffs made a case very similar to that described by Dr. Levinson in her recent Loyola Law Review article; that the new law will create a de facto barrier to minor party participation in General Elections, which will result in their eventual disqualification. Richard Winger, editor of the Ballot Access News, noted that this is just the latest in a number of judicial and legislative attempts to clarify or correct issues with Proposition 14.

“Is the Party Over?”

A law review article by Dr. Jessica A. Levinson was published recently that looks at the issue of minor party ballot access in the Post-Prop 14 (Top Two Primary) era. Levinson, the Director of Political Reform at the Center for Governmental Studies, wrote the article for the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review .

Minor parties in California will face their most significant crisis to date in 2014 as a result of the intersection of two laws;
Proposition 14 permits only the two candidates who received the most votes (regardless of party affiliation) to appear on the General Election ballot. While most elections will still feature one Democrat and one Republican, some may feature two candidates from a single party. Most importantly, it is highly unlikely that Minor Party candidates will ever appear on the General Election ballot for statewide offices.
Election Code Section 5100.  In the words of Dr. Levinson;

“Recognized parties can remain ballot qualified by one of three routes. First, parties can poll 2 percent of the vote for any statewide race in a nonpresidential (midterm) year on a general election ballot. Second, parties can obtain registration numbers of 1 percent of the previous gubernatorial vote.17 Third, parties can garner petition signatures from at least 10 percent of registered voters.”

Without any changes to the Election Code, it’s quite likely that most of California’s minor parties will lose their ballot status following the 2014 General Election. Dr. Levinson’s article is one of the first to look at what will be one of the biggest shifts in California politics in 20 years.

LINK:  “Is the Party Over? Examining the Constitutionality of Proposition 14 as It Relates to Ballot Access for Minor Parties by Jessica A. Levinson, Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review (Volume 44, Issue 2; Winter 2011)