Myths vs. Facts: Proposition 62
MYTH: Proposition 62 proposes an Open Primary.
FACT: The proposed scheme is not an Open Primary. A Sacramento Superior Court Judge banned proponents of Proposition 62 from referring to its Louisiana-style election system as an "open primary." Proposition 62 is a radical measure that would totally eliminate California's century-old direct primary system, thus depriving ordinary citizens of the right to select party nominees. In an Open Primary, the candidate from each party who receives the most votes proceeds to the November general election. The system guarantees that all political parties that participated in the primary election would be on the November general election ballot. Proposition 62 prevents this by completely eliminating direct primary elections. In reality, Proposition 62 would impose Closed General Elections on California voters.
MYTH: Proposition 62 would open up California's elections process and create more competition in elections.
FACT: Proposition 62 actually limits competition and creates a "closed general" election in which your choice could well be limited to two candidates of the same party. Only the top two vote getters - regardless of party affiliation - advance to the November election. Thus, two members of the same party could face one another in the general election, and, in most cases, minor party and independent candidates would be completely excluded. If Proposition 62's Louisiana-style election scheme had been in effect in 2002, nearly 6,000,000 votes - for Green, Libertarian, Reform, Natural Law and American Independent candidates - could not have been cast. Under Proposition 62, 50 different general election races would have been limited to two candidates from the same party over the last three election cycles.
MYTH: Proposition 62 would expand voter choice.
FACT: Proposition 62 will limit voter choice and stifle political debate, since only the top two vote getters in the first round of voting proceed to the November general election. Proposition 62 would allow the two most wealthy candidates to buy victory in the first round of voting and end up on the November ballot, making campaign finance reform meaningless. Proposition 60 protects voter choice by guaranteeing that all candidates who win their primary elections will appear on the November ballot.
MYTH: Proposition 62 would increase voter turnout.
FACT: Proposition 62 would do the exact opposite. The elections in California that most closely mirror this Louisiana-style election scheme are those for local non-partisan office. In those elections, turnout is far worse than for state elections.
MYTH: Proposition 62's Louisiana-style election scheme would result in the election of more moderate lawmakers.
FACT: Louisiana's primary election system has resulted in the most politically extreme candidates advancing to the runoff election. In 1996, California's Proposition 198 blanket primary also was sold to the voters as a system that would result in the election of more moderate legislators. Proposition 198 was in effect for the 1998 and 2000 election cycles. As a result, two-thirds of the current Members of the Assembly were elected to the Legislature under the blanket primary. In the Senate, 39 out of the 40 members won at least one election under the blanket primary. Yet, the Legislature today is more polarized than ever.