Be aware Californians, on your June 8, 2010, direct primary ballot will be a dangerous proposition, which appears harmless.  It is called the Top Two Candidates Open Primary.

I had always thought the purpose of a primary was to allow each political party to select who would run in the general election against the winners of the other parties. However, the purpose of this proposition is to put all candidates, for the same office on the same ballot. Here’s the killer: only the two candidates with the highest vote totals for each office, regardless of party preference, would then compete for the office at the ensuing general election. This will probably result in one Democratic and one Republican candidate for each office.

However, in some cases it could be two Democratic candidates and in other cases it could result in two Republican candidates.

If passed, voters will be denied the opportunity to vote in the general election for a third party candidate. The passage of the “Top Two” proposition will reduce your choices in the general election to only two.

In order for a third party to remain qualified as a recognized political party in California it must receive two percent of the vote for one of its statewide candidates in a gubernatorial general election. This sounds like a small amount of votes, but depending on voter participation, that is between 150,000 and a quarter million votes.

The Peace and Freedom Party has met that test every time with the exception of 1998 when the party was removed from the ballot. It took a great deal of energy and money to carry out a registration drive that resulted in Peace and Freedom Party being the only party in the history of California to requalify for that state’s ballot. Since it is unlikely a third party candidate will come in first or second for a statewide office, it would be impossible to obtain the votes necessary to be a recognized political party. 

If a party fails to obtain the votes needed it can still qualify to run candidates in the “voter-nominated” primary by having 88,991 people registered to vote with the party. 

However, except for presidential candidates, it would be a real fluke for any third party candidate to be on future general election ballots.

Third party advocates charge that over 90 percent of the districts are rigged, legally rigged, by gerrymandering them into safe one party districts. So the question becomes “if a candidate receives an absolute majority of the vote in the primary why do we need an expensive runoff election?” 

For that matter, by using an instant runoff voting (IRV) method, where voters would simply rank the candidates 1, 2, 3… in their order of preference, an absolute majority would be obtained with only one election.  With IRV no expensive general election is needed. IRV would be an ideal way to elect people to statewide offices where only one person is to be elected.

On the other hand, Peace and Freedom Party does not advocate any electoral system for state Legislature and U. S. House of Representatives except for one that allows each political party to be represented in direct proportion to the number of votes received in the general election. If we had a proportional system Peace and Freedom Party would have several people elected to partisan office.

Third party advocates are fighting for our lives so to speak. We need to educate people about this proposition and build strong opposition to it now. If we were voting today it would pass. If it passes, Peace and Freedom Party will lose its ballot status. 

Please help spread the word about this wolf in sheep’s clothing.



C. T. Weber
C. T. Weber

C. T. Weber is the current Sacramento County chair of Peace and Freedom Party of California. Weber has been elected to many posts in the Peace and Freedom Party, as well as the labor movement. He has served on the State Board of Directors of California State Employees Association, District Labor Council 784, SEIU Local 1000 State Council and the Sacramento Central Labor Council.