The Free & Equal Elections Foundation today launched a Web site that will be the central hub for mounting opposition to California's Proposition 14, an initiative set to appear on the state's election ballots in June.
The site, www.stoptoptwo.org, urges Californians to vote "no" on the "Top Two Primaries Act" proposition. The act would narrow a voter's choices in General Election legislative and Congressional races to the two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, who receive the most votes in an open primary held in June. Free & Equal believes the act would further protect incumbents while greatly reducing the influence of minority parties on the state's political establishment.
Free & Equal Founder and Chair Christina Tobin pointed to four key ways Proposition 14 would hurt voting rights: (1) it increases the requirements for minor parties to remain ballot-qualified; (2) it abolishes write-in voting for Congress and state office in November; (3) it treats candidates unequally by permitting candidates of qualified parties to use their party affiliation on the ballot while not allowing the same for small parties; and (4) it makes it virtually impossible for minor party and independent candidates to appear on the November ballot for Congress and statewide office.
Ballot-access advocate Ralph Nader said, “Unless defeated, Proposition 14 would establish a two-party tyranny that prevents other candidate choices for California voters from the November election ballot. In short, Proposition 14 wants to shut you up if you disagree with the arrogant, big, two-party politicians. I am pleased that Tobin is taking the lead on stopping this legislation with the Stop Top Two website.
A story on www.stoptoptwo.org quotes national ballot-access expert Richard Winger on the problems with similar laws in other states. “We ve seen it in action in Washington State and Louisiana," he said. “In the 35 years Louisiana has had such a system, not a single minor-party candidate has passed the gauntlet of the primary to make it onto the General Election ballot."
Winger continues, “Washington State s first election under its new top-two candidate system was in 2008. But for the first time since it became a state in 1889, no minor parties or independent candidates were on the ballot for Congress or statewide state office.
The proposition's most high-profile backer has been California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has secured a slew of support from big business. Some of the donors include Hewlett Packard, Blue Shield of California, Pacific Life Insurance Co., Burlington Northern and the California Business PAC, which is run by the state chamber of commerce.
Among the big-name opponents are the California Green Party, Libertarian Party, Peace and Freedom Party, American Civil Liberties Union, and the League of Women Voters all of which oppose corporate control over electoral politics.
“The list of mega-corporations lining up to buy this election compared to the list of grassroots democracy groups working to Stop Top Two demonstrates to the people of California that big business wants to maintain the two-party status quo," Tobin said.