By Dr. Joseph Kolacinski, an assistant professor in Elmira College’s Department of Mathematics at pressconnects.com:
Recently, California passed Proposition 14, replacing the state’s old primary election system with the “top-two” or “jungle” primary. It works like this: There is a single, open primary where every voter chooses among all the candidates. The top two vote-getters then compete with each other in the general election.
This seems reasonable, and a “jungle primary” certainly sounds exciting. But in judging an election system, you must ask how well the system will produce a true societal choice. By that measure, the jungle primary has serious drawbacks.
The article concludes,
France’s 2002 presidential election used a system similar to the jungle primary. Because there was a large number of left-wing candidates in the initial round of voting, the unpopular incumbent, Jacques Chirac, and the extremely right-wing Jean-Marie Le Pen led in the polls. Each was supported by fewer than one-fifth of the voters, but that was enough to make them the only two candidates in the final round. There was widespread dissatisfaction with these choices, and slogans such as “vote with a clothespin on your nose” appeared.
Every election system has drawbacks. Because the jungle primary system can prevent large portions of voters from having an acceptable choice in a general election and can determine a winner by something other than voters’ decisions, it seems inferior to the system it replaces and to a traditional open primary. Hopefully, California will discard the top-two primary system and consider different and better options.