19 May 2010

California Proposition 14 Locks Out Minor Parties

Sacramento Bee: Minor parties fear extinction under Proposition 14

For registered members of California's minor parties, Proposition 14 isn't just about winning or losing elections. It's a matter of survival.

Proposition 14 would create a "top two" primary in which candidates of all party affiliations run on one primary ballot. The two candidates who win the most votes, regardless of party, would face off in the general election.

The proposal to eliminate party primaries has drawn criticism from the state Democratic and Republican parties. But it's also opposed by members of California's qualified minor parties, who say they would be locked out of the new political process.

A nearly identical primary system approved by Washington state voters in 2004 has hurt minor parties.

Third parties recognized before the measure passed saw a significant drop in candidates for state and federal office.

"It takes all the energy and enthusiasm out of the sails of minor parties," said Richard Winger, a Libertarian who advocates for greater ballot access. "People just give up, drop out."

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