[EM] How would you fix California's top two primary?

Monkey Puzzle araucaria.araucana at gmail.com
Tue Jan 10 12:13:03 PST 2017

If Top Two is required, I would prefer Approval voting, then include the
Approval winner (AW1), plus the approval winner after all AW1-approving
ballots are removed.  This would be clone independent and would generally
tend to include candidates from two different parties.  It is basically a
2-person multiwinner election using Approval reweighted voting.

 Frango ut patefaciam -- I break so that I may reveal

On Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 6:03 AM, Erik Moeller <eloquence at gmail.com> wrote:

> Since a 2010 ballot initiative [1], California uses a nonpartisan
> blanket primary for non-presidential elections. This means that
> candidates from all parties and independent ones run against each
> other in a primary round, and the top two advance to the general
> election.
> Multiple candidates from the _same_ party can run in the primary,
> meaning that you may have vote splitting effects. Frequently, the top
> two general election candidates are from the same party. This is by
> design, though it remains to be seen how voters would respond to e.g.,
> two gubernatorial choices from the same party. You can see some
> example results here:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_State_Assembly_election,_2016
> An interesting effect you can see here is the large number of
> candidates who make it to the general election on a fraction of
> write-in votes. Some of these districts would likely have been
> uncontested in prior elections. For example, Angela Rupert from
> District 46 got 131 (!) write-in votes, and managed to get 43.9% /
> 60,658 votes in the general. Quite a jump!
> There's a large turnout gap between primary and general, and the
> electorate is different. [2] As a consequence, small parties have
> generally feared a loss of visibility, and opposed such measures in
> the states where they have been proposed. The change certainly hasn't
> helped them in California so far -- only the Libertarians made a small
> showing in the 2016 elections, without any seats.
> Practical questions for this group:
> - Do you think this system would benefit from iterative improvements?
> - If so, what would those changes look like?
> It almost goes without saying that I think proportional representation
> voting is the most desirable long term change. But if there are
> smaller changes that would improve this system in the near term, CA
> may be a viable target for reform, by law or by ballot initiative.
> Personally, I think the vote splitting and spoiler effects in the
> primary stage are problematic, and having candidates from the same
> party in the general is undesirable. The use of fractions of write-in
> votes also seems hackish and suggests ballot access problems in the
> primary stage. I can imagine multiple ways to address this, but I'd be
> curious what this group thinks.
> Warmly,
> Erik
> [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_14_(2010)
> [2] http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_514EMR.pdf
> ----
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