Are you wondering why Democratic Voters in the 25th Congressional District only had a choice between two Republican candidates? Read below to find out about California’s Top-Two Primary, voter engagement, and what you can do to make sure you always have a choice at the ballot box.
Voters in California went to the polls in June to cast their ballots in the 2014 mid-term primary. Democratic candidate Lee Rogers ran a spirited campaign against Republicans Tony Strickland and Steve Knight, but came in third place in the race for the 25th Congressional District. Under California’s new Top-Two Primary system, approved by California voters in 2010, the two candidates with the most votes advance to the general election. With no option for a write-in candidate (it’s not allowed under the Top-Two system) this left Democratic voters in the district with two options for the general election: Choose one of the two extremely conservative Republican candidates, or not vote at all for this office.
The Top Two primary was designed to encourage parties to run more moderate candidates, encourage more independent voters to come to the polls, and increase representation for all Californians.
It has failed to do this on all counts:
- There hasn’t been a move towards moderation in California elections so far. The same is true in Washington State, where the Top-Two primary has been in place since 2008.
- Voter turnout among independents has not increased as a result of being able to vote in California’s Primary Elections. Washington post columnist Harold Meyerson has called on California to dump the Top-Two Primary, writing in the L.A. Times “When the vote count in this June’s primary is completed, turnout will probably be about 25%, which would make it the lowest ever.“
- In the heavily Democratic 31st Congressional District, four Democratic candidates split their party’s vote in the 2012 primary, leaving two GOP candidates to face each other in the general election. The eventual winner Gary Miller is choosing not to seek re-election in part because his politics we’re “so out of synch” with his constituents.
Right now the Top-Two Primary is a part of our electoral system in California and, until voters push to repeal it, it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. So, what can be done to make sure you always have a viable Democratic choice in each election? Here are two ways to get involved:
Get Registered and Go Vote:
Get Registered Permanent Vote-By-Mail:
If you aren’t registered to vote you can register online at http://registertovote.ca.gov/
Once you are registered, apply for permanent vote-by-mail status. This will ensure you receive an absentee ballot for every election. Fill out the request form to receive an absentee ballot, found at the link below, and check box number 8 to apply to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter:
Vote by mail application at California Secretary of State Website (pdf)
- Democratic voter turnout is significantly lower in mid-term elections than in presidential year elections. From the Huffington Post:
“There is a partisan element as well – one that also affects which candidates reach the November ballot. According to the California Secretary of State, 28.4% of registered voters in May 2014 were Republicans, as opposed to 43.4% of registered voters as Democrat. But a Field Poll of likely primary voters in May found that 37% were Republicans.”
- Thanks to voter registration efforts in the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita the 25th Congressional District now has more registered Democrats than any other group.
It’s more important than ever for Democrats to vote in all of our elections. If Democrats across the district voted in each election we wouldn’t just have Democratic candidates on the ballot, we would have Democrats in office.
There are 3 key ways we encourage all Democrats to get involved:
- Sign up to receive Emails: By Signing up to receive emails you can stay “in the know” about local efforts to support Democratic candidates and causes. Want to be a part of a rally for immigration, or women’s rights? Want to know about events supporting the LGBT community? Want to meet candidates running for local and national office? Sign up for our email list. Emails are sent once or twice a month at most, and won’t come daily like some political organizations like to do.
- Donate: We are a grassroots, community based organization and can only do what we do when local Democrats partner with us. Donating is one of the key ways you can do that, if you can help us $5, $10 or $20 dollars that will go a long way to helping us represent Democratic candidates and viewpoints in our area. In Presidential election years the Democratic Alliance for Action opens a local campaign headquarters to support both local and national races.
- Come to a DAA meeting: DAA meetings are a great way to hear about local issues, meet candidates running for office, and connect with fellow Democrats. If you have a passion for getting people registered to vote, helping candidates you care about get elected, and getting people informed about local issues we need your help! Come to the next meeting and find out how you can be a part of the DAA. The next meeting will be January 22nd at Vincenzo’s Pizza in Newhall
For more information on how you can help see our “Get Involved” page.
To learn a little more about who we are as a club see “Who We Are.”
Being involved in the political process has always been an important part of being an American, and with California’s new primary system engagement is more important ever. Vote, get involved, and make sure you always have a voice when you go to the ballot box.
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