California Open Primary Proposition 14 Passes With 54% – Good News for Independents!

By  | 

Californians voted in favor of Prop 14 last night by a healthy margin. The open primary referendum empowers 3.4 million “decline-to-state” registered independents in the state, and is good news for independents and nonpartisan voters throughout the country. Partian control of elections has become a major obstacle to policy that truly represents the sentiments of voters, and is increasingly dangerous to our country.

Congrats to all!


Parties talk about lawsuit challenging ‘open’ primary victory (Sac Bee/Capitol Alert, Posted by Susan Ferriss) Jason Olson, director of Independent Voice, a group that backed that measure, predicted that more decline-to-state voters would turn out for primary elections with the Proposition 14 approach. Independent voters are now about 20 percent of all California’s registered voters.

California Voters Back Election Overhaul (By JESSE McKINLEY, NY Times) Richard Winger, a prominent opponent of the measure, said that “California now has the most restrictive general election ballot access in the nation,” but acknowledged the sour mood of the electorate.

State Ballot Measures – Statewide Results (California Statewide Primary Election Results, Sec of State) 54.6% yes on 14

California voters approve revolutionary ‘open’ primary (By Susan Ferriss, Fresno Bee) Disgruntled California voters have blown up their election system by approving Proposition 14, which tosses out the current political party-based primary system in all but presidential races… That revolutionary approach doesn’t bother Jason Olson, director of Independent Voice, a group that backed Proposition 14.

For more news for independent voters and Prop 14, see The Hankster

  • http://stubbornfacts.us Simon

    This is a lamentable turn of events that awards independents something to which they have no right, and which will manage the surprising feat of making California government even more sclerotic. We can take some comfort in the rough ride and likely demise it can expect in the courts. Compare California Democratic Party v. Jones, 530 U.S. 567, with Washington State Grange v. Washington GOP, 460 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2006) and 552 U.S. 442 (2008). Regardless of its ultimate fate, however, its mere adoption is bad news for independents and nonpartisan voters throughout the country because it is bad news for everyone throughout the country. It represents a state succumbing to an infection that its deluded supporters will now try to metastasize to other states.

    Partian control of elections has become a major obstacle to policy that truly represents the sentiments of voters, and is increasingly dangerous to our country.

    This is utterly banale nonsense.

  • Solomon Kleinsmith

    I really hope I’m wrong about this being a terrible thing for independents to get behind. Seems like indies in Cali fell into a big trap set for them… and in the process gave a big finger to the third party groups we’ve had so much common cause with over the years.

    Doesn’t matter anymore though. Its in the books. We’ll see how it actually turns out.

    … and we’ll see how much the third party groups, with good reason, wont trust indies in Cali, for betraying them like this. If I were CAIVN I’d be calling them to apologize.

  • http://www.facebook.com/walteriankaye Walter Ian Kaye

    The party system is harmful and evil. Partisan politics is the antithesis to a United states. I have always been decline-to-state/independent, and always will. I am overjoyed at the passage of Prop 14! I hope the rest of the country — and the rest of the world — follows. And I further hope that someday there will be no political parties at all. A no-party voting system where every vote is for a person’s individual merit has already been demonstrated to be a resounding success in other circles, and it’s high time it arrives for the mainstream.

  • http://grassrootsindependent.blogspot.com/ Nancy Hanks

    Walter Ian Kaye — Amen, brother! And now, on to NYC, where there’s a fight brewing over nonpartisan municipal elections. Also Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina… http://grassrootsindependent.blogspot.com/2010/06/congratulations-california-independents.html

  • Nick Benjamin

    What country are you referring to that has a no-party political system? AFAIK the only country that claims a no-party system is Uganda, and that functions as a one-party system.

    You don’t have to like parties in general, or the two big ones in the US. You do have to acknowledge that, so far, no democracy has worked without them.

  • superdestroyer

    The open primary system is great for the Democrats. Now they have the chance to eliminate the last few Republicans in California during the primary elections and making the general election between the very liberal Democrats and the not-so-liberal Democrats.

    I wonder when the last private sector employed middle class white will be evacuating California due to super high taxes, unlimited immigraiton, poor schools, and high crime.

  • Nick Benjamin


    Learn math. Please.

    To guarantee a top two finish in any election you need 1/3 of the vote. That means to consistently defeat Republicans in an open primary you need to hold them under 33.3%. You also need two great candidates who can each count on 1/3 of the vote.

    That will happen in plenty of Cali districts. San Fran, LA, etc. In others (Orange County) the opposite will happen.

    In any district the GOP has a realistic chance of winning they’ll come in the top two. The major changes will be two-fold.

    1) Party unity will be very important. If the Side A has a 60% base vote in a district, Side B has 40%, and Side A makes the mistake of splitting it’s vote 4 ways side A loses. That’s the scenario that has Simon so worried.

    2)Third parties will win a primary or two every election cycle, greatly increasing their odds of getting elected in the General. A lot of those districts where one big party has no chance of getting into the top two just got a lot more competitive.

  • superdestroyer


    The only districts where the third party candidate will be in the top two is in districts with no functional conservative party. Of course, those districts are very liberal and vote 90% for the Democrats now. The idea that a lily white green party candidate can win in heavily black or Hispanic districts is laughable.

    My guess is that the Republicans will shrink to less than 20% of the elected offices, the Democrats will be able to pass any tax increase they want, the Democrats will be able to promise government workers and ethnic power block any entitlement that they want, and that the middle class private sector will be forced to evacuate.

    If you look at Los Angeles, 15% unemployment with an expanding number of city government employees and increasing taxes, you will see the future of California.

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    For excluding so many voters from the process of determining which of the truly viable candidates appear on the final ballot, (and other reasons) the parties richly deserve this smack in the face.

    This change may well turn out to be a lamentable mistake. For California. So we in the other 49 states should heartily give thanks to California for being the big state lab willing to try it out. Because it might NOt be a big mistake. Trying it out is a much, much, much, better way to find out whether or not it’s a good idea.

    Folks informed primarily by deeply ingrained partisan principles are naturally prone to presuming that anything which diminishes 2-party dominance is bad. As an independent and a skeptical sort myself, I think using an actual experiment is a great idea. Especially since it’s not MY state that’s rolling the dice.

  • CWren

    Since I haven’t seen much evidence that Independents are willing to work to get people ON the primary ballots, I think that eventually this will force both major parties to the extremes in the candidates that end up in the primaries.

    My state has open primaries and I have noticed that Independents generally show up to vote AGAINST certain candidates. They rarely vote in primaries to show support FOR a candidate. I know this because I’ve been an election worker for years and though you are not supposed to discuss candidates at the polling place, Independents, FAR more than party members, often arrive announcing who they are voting AGAINST.

    They often have someone from each major party that they don’t like and then become annoyed when they discover they can’t have TWO ballots.

    Independents remind me of those who show up at a neighborhood block party, enjoy the fun, and at the same time feel it is their right to criticize the decorations and food – even though they didn’t contribute money, time, or effort to make it happen.

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    Independents remind me of those who show up at a neighborhood block party, enjoy the fun, and at the same time feel it is their right to criticize the decorations and food – even though they didn’t contribute money, time, or effort to make it happen.

    Except that independents are taxpayers. And the actual primaries are conducted on the taxpayer dime, using government workers and municipal locations. Granted, independents don’t generally make additional personal contributions.

    But under your analogy, the party members are like people who want to have a party and not invite me, but want to have the party at MY house.

    BTW, I forgot to mention earlier that even though I’m glad California is undertaking this experiment, I don’t think it’s going to benefit other parties or their supporters to generally be left off the final ballot. This dynamic likely means LESS attention for these parties’ issues and perspectives at the time when MORE people are paying attention. It also means that during the primary season, more focus will be placed on who the top two are likely to be than upon particular issues.

  • Nick Benjamin

    more focus will be placed on who the top two are likely to be than upon particular issues.

    I’m gonna have to disagree there.

    It is impossible for the American media to become less focused on issues, and more focused on the horse-race factor.

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    Fair point Nick. Still, the final horse race becomes more of an early focus. Under the old method, a 3rd party candidacy that stood to capture 5-15% of the vote had the potential to disturb the final outcome. At minimum, this meant that the top 2 candidates would have to speak cogently and at some length to whatever pet issue was driving the 3rd party candidacy.

    Under the top 2 method, all non top-2 candidacies and their related ideas are kicked off the stage for the final act.As an independent, I fail to see how this helps me, so I’m glad my state isn’t doing it.

    Independents who want to effect the outcome are still stuck choosing the least objectionable of the viable candidates. Granted, for some states that would be a new feature, but in my state we already were allowed to do this. But what’s lost is the ability to vote for a 3rd party candidate to register support for ideas outside the mainstream party platforms. Non mainstream ideas are dismissed earlier. Smart partisans are cheering this development. In exchange for allowing independents a primary voice, independent choices are swept away in the final election. This is progress?

    I don’t think this change dilutes 2-party dominance in a substantive way, and it actually fosters it at the final stage.