Sen. Abel Maldonado’s (R-Santa Maria) proposal to reform the California primary system will give the electoral race back to voters.
Proposition 14, which will appear on the June 8th ballot, aims to reform the California Primary System. Under the reform, the two candidates with the most votes during the primary election appear on the ballot for the general election. This would change the current policy, in which the top candidate from each party in the primary is placed on the final ballot.
Though the current system has its benefits, its downfall is the type of candidates it draws to the general election. Primary elections tend to draw only the most passionate partisan voters, making the nominees more partisan than they would be otherwise.
With the reform, voters would not have to register under a specific party to vote for that party’s candidate, like they do now. Instead, if a registered Republican voter happens to favor a Democrat, the polarizing weakness of the party system will not hinder that voter’s preference. Though it is idealistic to say that this reform will completely do away with party clash, it may mitigate initial party loyalties, which often cloud political action.
The reform isn’t flawless. Candidates are typically backed financially by Republican or Democratic parties, which ultimately gain them the most popularity. The system weakens the chances an independent candidate will appear on the final ballot.
However, these candidates have practically no chance at winning in the general election anyway. Harsh as the reform is, it will bring a dose of reality to politicians who perhaps aren’t in touch with the general public. We can hope that the elimination of third parties will force candidates into the two major political parties, creating a more diverse electoral climate.
Essentially, neither the current nor the proposed primary system is ideal. However, the current primary system encourages a tense political environment, which has severely and antagonistically divided Democrats and Republicans on important policy decisions.
These detriments considered, Proposition 14 is the lesser of two evils. It aims to improve and moderate the voter-candidate relationship in order to minimize contention in the legislative system.