New study shows pluses, minuses of open primaries

The nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles has released an excellent analysis of the impacts of Proposition 14, the open primary initiative on the June 8 ballot.

The authors’ chief conclusions support proponents’ arguments that open primaries could generate more competition, increase the number of moderates in elected office and boost the impact of nonpartisan, or decline to state voters.

But the experts also agree that it could hike the cost of campaigns and the role that money plays in elections.

Click here to read my news story.

Proposition 14, if voters pass it, will eliminate the party primary system in California. Voters could choose among all the candidates, regardless of party registration. The top two vote-getters would advance to the general election, also without regard for party affiliation.

A reluctant Legislature placed the measure on the ballot in exchange for then GOP state Sen. Abel Maldonado’s vote in favor of the 2009 California budget.

Predictably, the political parties hate it.

But proponents hail the measure as an essential governance reform that could lead to the election of more centrists and ease the political ideological polarization in Sacramento.

To read the 113-page report, visit www.cgs.org. The report contains a concise and very readable executive summary for the less wonky readers.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Adrian

    Of course this bill empowers DTS voters, which isn’t bad on principle, but it comes at the expense of other voters and also blocks the right to freely associate and endorse political candidates of different parties as per the freedom of expression clause of the 1st amendment.

    How such a move like this slithered past the Supreme Court is beyond me, but this kills voter choice and electing moderates of only one party is even worse than picking the “lesser of two evils”.

    Do not pass Prop 14. Let’s give Prop 11 a shot by itself first before we take another drastic action that could lead to overcorrection.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    Lisa’s news story on Prop 14 deserved the front page top-of-the fold position it got. Our closed primary system has contributed to CA’s bad economy more than repeal of Prop 13, or a Constitutional Convention could correct. The opponents of Prop 14 are political party bosses. A political system recognizing politics as the art of compromise will save our State, Country and World, if the FCC places reasonable regulations on TV and the internet.

  • John W.

    I’m all for Prop. 14, although I wish all voter initiatives had 10 year sunsets; so that we have a chance to undo the damage when buyer remorse sets in and so future generations are not stuck with the poor, decades-old decisions of their elders. The initatives would automatically go to voters to renew or not.

    Both parties in this state are taking us to ruin. Everything Democratic powers that be are for or against is driven by what serves the interests of the public employee unions. Republicans worship at the alter of Grover Norquist.

    Open primaries as called for under Prop. 14 are not constitutionally suspect and do not violate free association. That is an issue only when you have separate Democratic and Republican primaries and require that the primaries be open to everyone regardless of political affiliation.

  • steve weir

    I’m not taking a position on Prop. 14. I would like to acknowledge that the 1998 Blanket Primary, and the 2000 Modified Blanket Primary were very popular with our voters, poll workers and election staff.

    SCA 6 which established Prop. 14 has a companion bill, SB 4, both of which must pass. SB 4 requires excessive additional language on our ballot cards which could have a strong financial impact on California Counties. Because SCA 6 and SB 4 were passed, with virtually no debate (as part of the budget compromise), they did not go through the normal committee hearing structure. Registrars did not have a chance to comment. Therefore, the analysis in the state voters guide says that there is no fiscal impact.

    If Prop. 14 passes, it is our hope that the Legislature will re-visit SB 6. Since Prop. 14 does not go into effect until January, 2011, there’s time to address our concerns.

    (Additional language requirements on the actual ballot could force registrars to double the number of ballot cards printed which will have significant cost consequences.)