A more detailed discussion of the argument in this article is available here.

Backers of Prop 14 want you to believe that it's about giving voters more choices and electing moderate politicians to office. In fact, it gives voters fewer choices and won't elect any more moderates than the current system.

We think it serves another purpose that the business interests financing the Yes campaign don't disclose. It would give wealthy donors more influence over elections, and weaken political parties – both large and small – in the process.

Fewer Choices, Not More

Under Prop 14, you could vote in the June primary for candidates from different parties for each office on the ballot. But in November, you would only have two choices. They would almost never include an independent or a candidate of a small party. Votes for write-in candidates in November would not be counted.

Buried in the fine print are provisions that make it much harder for small parties to stay on the ballot. (Peace and Freedom would have to almost double its voter registration by 2014). That means fewer candidates to choose from in June. Even more important for the independent voters Prop 14 claims to appeal to, major party candidates would be less likely to compete against members of their own party in June because they would be afraid that vote splitting would help the other party.

More Moderate Winners?

Then there's the desire to elect more centrists. California politics is indeed polarized and moderate voters are under-represented. (So are voters with viewpoints outside the two-party framework, but Prop 14 doesn't even pretend to help them.) The problem needs solving, but Prop 14 won't help.

If California had fully closed primaries, a blanket primary like Prop 14 would probably elect a few more moderates. So would open primaries, in which voters choose a political party on election day rather than when they register. But so do the semi-closed primaries we have now, in which only decline-to-state voters can choose a party on election day. Academic research shows that Prop 14 would not be any better for moderate candidates.

What It Would Really Do

If Prop 14 won't work, why are major business interests spending millions to pass it? It would weaken the Democratic and Republican party hierarchies, which are not currently under the control of business interests to the extent they usually are. It would also make campaigning more expensive and candidates more dependent on big contributions, because they would have to reach the whole electorate in two campaigns. As a result, big business probably thinks it would elect somewhat more business-friendly office-holders.

Defeating Prop 14 is one of the Peace and Freedom Party's main priorities this spring. Please start here to get more information and learn how you can help Stop Top Two.

Vote NO on Proposition 14!

This article is also available as a flyer to download, print and distribute here.

Last revised April 28, 2010

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