Christina Tobin of Free and Equal Discusses “Top Two” State Election Laws

Benn Swann interviews Christina Tobin of Free and Equal Elections Foundation about the elector process often called “Top Two”.

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “Christina Tobin of Free and Equal Discusses “Top Two” State Election Laws

  1. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    I like Top Two. I feel my votes count more. It eliminates the wasted vote syndrome.

    This is because I can safely vote for my favorite candidate, even from a third party, in the first round.

    Then in the general election, I can vote for a candidate who’s likely to win.

    Third parties whine that Top Two bars them from the general election. But that’s only because the PEOPLE do NOT support your party.

    EARN more votes, then you’ll make it into the Top Top. And if you can’t earn those votes, you’re not a “real” political party anyway.

    Top Two treats all parties equal — like adults — giving them all a chance to EARN their way into the general election.

    Who hates Top Two? People who treat third parties as a hobby. They don’t want to earn votes. They only want to see their party and candidate names on the general election ballot, so they feel like a “real” party. It’s good for their ego, even if almost no one votes for them.

  2. Andy

    “Root’s Teeth Are Awesome // Mar 9, 2013 at 12:49 am

    I like Top Two. I feel my votes count more. It eliminates the wasted vote syndrome.”

    Uggggg!!!!

  3. Andy

    “Third parties whine that Top Two bars them from the general election. But that’s only because the PEOPLE do NOT support your party.”

    This is complete bull. The purpose of primaries is so each party can select their nominee to move on to the general election.

    Also, the fact of the matter is that most of the general public does not pay attention to the primaries. Most of the general public does not start paying attention to the elections until AFTER the primaries. Top Two tips the playing field even more in favor of the major party’s establishment candidates as it basically shuts minor party and independent candidates off the ballot during the general election, and it is during the build up to the general election when the public is most likely to be exposed to the message of the minor party and independent candidates.

    Top Two is an absolutely toxic idea to anyone who supports minor party and independent candiates, as well as for anyone who supports having any semblance of fair elections.

  4. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    >> Most of the general public does not start paying attention to the elections until AFTER the primaries. <<

    Which should benefit third parties. This is because third party activists are more likely to vote in primaries that are major party voters.

    So really, primary elections attract a disproportionate number of third party voters.

  5. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    That should read:

    This is because third party activists are more likely to vote in primaries than are major party voters.

  6. Catholic Trotskyist

    Root’s Teeth, couldn’t agree more. We need Top Two in all 50 states. Then the primary elections could be treated as the first round of the general election by more of the public.

  7. Andy

    “Root’s Teeth Are Awesome // Mar 9, 2013 at 6:16 am

    That should read:

    This is because third party activists are more likely to vote in primaries than are major party voters.”

    Third party activists are NOT more likely to vote in the primaries than major party supporters. Also, third party activists represents a very tiny segement of the poplulation, and one of the main reason that “third party” candidates and independent candidates run is because they want to get a message out and build a movement for the future. Top Two Primaries make it a lot more difficult for them to be heard by the public because it basically means that they will be SHUT OFF OF THE BALLOT DURING THE GENERAL ELECTION, AND IT IS DURING THE GENERAL ELECTION WHEN MOST OF THE PUBLIC IS PAYING ATTENTION.

  8. Andy

    “just saying // Mar 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    @7 — Candidates not running to win are losers and shouldn’t be running anyway.”

    These candidates are winning to win, but they’ve got to build a movement first, and the best way to build that movement is for them to be able to get their message out to the general public. The general public is most likely to hear about them during the build up to the general election. Top Two Primaries takes this platform away from them.

  9. Richard Winger

    In November 2012, two candidates who were not major party nominees were elected to the U.S. Senate, and 25 candidates who were not major party nominees were elected to state legislatures.
    In all 27 instances, the winners were elected in states that do not use top-two.

    Before California had top-two, in the period 1986-1999, there were five instances when someone who wasn’t a major party nominee was elected to the state legislature.

    Jesse Ventura only got 3% of the vote in Minnesota’s open primary in September 1998, but he won the general election. Under top-two he would never have been elected.

    California, which used top-two in 2012, was the only populous state in the nation with no minor party candidates on the November ballot for Congress. The 2nd most populous state with no minor party candidates on the November ballot was Georgia, and we all know how bad Georgia is.

  10. Catholic Trotskyist

    There were some independent candidates on the ballot in the November elections for Congress in California. Admittedly some of them actually did belong to on of the two major parties and the listing for Independents is “No Party Preference”, but it’s still an accomplishment for them to get second place.

  11. Richard Winger

    In 2010, under the old system, there were 3 independent candidates for US House on the California November ballot.

    As for the 2012 independent candidates, the only reason 3 of the 4 made it is that one of the major parties didn’t run anyone.

  12. Ted Brown

    It would make sense to me to forget primaries altogether. There should be one November election with candidates from all parties (plus independents), and the use of instant run-off voting (or ranked choice voting). This would save taxpayers a lot of election costs. It would save voters from ballot fatigue. And it would keep alternative candidates relevant throughout the entire campaign.

  13. Andy

    “Ted Brown // Mar 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    It would make sense to me to forget primaries altogether. There should be one November election with candidates from all parties (plus independents), and the use of instant run-off voting (or ranked choice voting).”

    Parties can also nominate candidates by convention. So primaries are not really necessary. The parties could all nominate by convention and independent candidates can petition their way on to the ballot.

    Top Two Primaries is a sham.

  14. Andy

    Thane Eichenauer said: “67% of voters gave the thumbs down to top two in the 2012 Arizona general election.”

    I found out that some of the petition circulators who gathered the signatures necessary to place the Top Two Primary petition on the ballot in Arizona have also worked for the Libertarian Party, both before and after this, in Arizona and in some other states (depending on which petitioner).

    It’s kind of ironic that some people who petitioned to place the Top Two Primary initiative on the ballot in Arizona – which would have removed Libertarian Party candidates from the Arizona ballot – have also petitioned for the Libertarian Party.

  15. Starchild

    Ted Brown @13 makes an excellent suggestion — just get rid of primaries and put all the candidates on the general election ballot.

    This might well mean a long ballot with lots of candidates, including multiple candidates from some parties, and I see nothing wrong with that. Better than having multiple ballots at different times of year. When primaries are “open”, they no longer serve their original purpose anyway.

    Candidates who have the official endorsement/support of their parties could have this indicated next to their names on the ballot.

  16. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Hmmm, I heard she lives in Los Angeles now. I sent her a couple emails inviting her to our meetings in Pasadena, but I didn’t hear back. I don’t know what part of LA she’s in.

  17. just saying

    @10 — Put down the crack pipe. There was no “jungle primary” election in Minnesota. There were only party primaries, in which Ventura had no opponent. Totally different situation.

    Then, there was a general election which Ventura won with a plurality.

    If Minnesota had a top-two runoff, Ventura would have gone head-to-head with Norm Coleman in the second round.

  18. paulie

    I like Top Two. I feel my votes count more. It eliminates the wasted vote syndrome.

    This is because I can safely vote for my favorite candidate, even from a third party, in the first round.

    Then in the general election, I can vote for a candidate who’s likely to win.

    Since they know that they can’t get into the actual election where any significant number of people pay any attention to them, candidates without a lot of money and institutional backing, or with ideas that push the envelope, generally don’t even run in the “primary” (a misnomer in itself). That’s the whole point of the Top-One-Disguised-As-Two system.

    Third parties whine that Top Two bars them from the general election. But that’s only because the PEOPLE do NOT support your party.

    EARN more votes, then you’ll make it into the Top Top.

    Yeah, that’s easy to do when you are outspent 1,000-1 and are up against the mainstream media, government school miseducation, etc.

    But your whole premise is flawed. The point of participating in elections isn’t just to win, it’s to reach people with new ideas that many of them would never learn of in any other way and to put pressure on establishment parties to adopt those ideas or lose votes to the upstart parties. That’s how a lot of change has taken place in this country, and it’s exactly what Top-One-Disguised-As-Two is designed to put a stop to.

    And if you can’t earn those votes, you’re not a “real” political party anyway.

    Your definition of a real political party is flawed. There are different kinds of political parties serving different goals.

    It’s like saying that if a blade of grass can’t grow as high as the highest trees it shouldn’t exist.

    Top Two treats all parties equal — like adults — giving them all a chance to EARN their way into the general election.

    Bullshit. And it’s election, not general election. An “election” which by definition can’t result in a decisive victory is not an election. People can and do justifiably ignore such “elections” knowing that the real election campaign has not yet started.
    Knowing this, almost anyone unlikely to get to the real election does not even run.

    Who hates Top Two?

    Anyone who wants to see ideas other than the establishment’s penetrate the public consciousness and put some real pressure on the establishment players.

    And some of the top “two” backers have even admitted it.

  19. paulie

    Which should benefit third parties. This is because third party activists are more likely to vote in primaries that are major party voters.

    So really, primary elections attract a disproportionate number of third party voters.

    Even if that were true, it would not be a benefit. The idea is to be noticed by as much as possible of the general public, not to preach to the choir. If we want to preach to the choir, non-electoral strategies such as think tanks are better.

  20. paulie

    Then the primary elections could be treated as the first round of the general election by more of the public.

    No, they wouldn’t, because they can’t elect anyone.

    If it was a runoff ONLY if no one gets 50% plus one that would be a different story.

  21. paulie

    Candidates not running to win are losers and shouldn’t be running anyway.

    Bullshit. That’s a formula to perpetuate the rule of establishment players with establishment backing and establishment ideas.

  22. paulie

    It would make sense to me to forget primaries altogether. There should be one November election with candidates from all parties (plus independents), and the use of instant run-off voting (or ranked choice voting). This would save taxpayers a lot of election costs. It would save voters from ballot fatigue. And it would keep alternative candidates relevant throughout the entire campaign.

    Yes, except that it should be approval voting, and each party should get one candidate which it selects through its own private system of its own choosing which it administers itself – convention, privately run and financed primary, smoke filled room, doesn’t matter – up to the party to decide which method, pay for it and administer it. Anyone not happy with any of the existing parties’ method of choosing their candidate would be free to create a new party or run without one.

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