California Assemblymember Jeff Gorell (R-Thousand Oaks) has introduced AB 141, which would increase the number of congressional and state legislative elections with only one candidate, instead of two, on the November ballot.
Current law says the top two vote-getters, for congress and state partisan office, appear on the November ballot. But AB 141 would say that a write-in candidate in the June primary could not appear on the November ballot, even if he or she places second in June, unless the candidate received a number of write-ins equal to 1% of the total vote cast for that office in the last general election.
If this law had been in effect in November 2012, there would have been eight U.S. House or state legislative races with only one person on the ballot in November (the November ballot doesn’t contain write-in space). In reality, in 2012, there were eight races in which only one person filed to be on the primary ballot, but in six of those races, a write-in filed in the primary, and appeared on the November ballot. None of the June write-in candidates came close to polling as much as 1% of the vote cast in November 2010, so if this bill had been in effect, all eight races would have had only one person on the November ballot.
The only minor party members who appeared on the California November ballot for state legislature were three Peace & Freedom Party members who had filed as primary write-ins in these races. Obviously when only one person is on the June ballot, it’s easy for a write-in candidate in June to place second, and they did so.
The Gorell bill appears to violate the California Constitution, which says, “The top two candidates, as determined by the voters in an open primary, shall advance to a general election.” Thanks to Dave Kadlecek for this news.