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California Bill to Make it Easier for Parties to Remain Ballot-Qualified

California Assemblymember Tim Donnelly has completely revised one of his election law bills, AB 1170, so that all the contents are new. The new contents alter the definition of “political party”, so that the 2% vote test (which is only applied in midterm years) is now applied in the June primary instead of the November election. The bill has a hearing in the Assembly Elections Committee on Wednesday, January 15, at 9 a.m.

The reason this change makes it easier for parties to remain ballot-qualified is that under the top-two system, it will be almost impossible for minor party members to ever be on the November ballot for a statewide race in midterm years.

By coincidence, another California legislator has also been planning to introduce a bill to make it easier for a party to remain ballot-qualified, but that other bill isn’t introduced yet. It is expected that the other bill, when it is introduced, will lower the number of registered voters for a party to be ballot-qualified from 1% of the last gubernatorial vote, to one-third of 1% of the total state registration. That would lower the registration requirement from approximately 110,000 members to 60,000 members. That bill would also provide that the 2% vote test (which is an alternative to meeting the registration test) could be met in either June or November.

6 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    The bill perpetuates the Secretary of State’s misinterpretation of SB 6.

    If a candidate prefers a particular party, the party is not a participant in any meaningful sense. It is like a child who points out a window and exclaims that he likes cows. The cow is not a participant, even if appearing to be thoughtful as it chews its cud.

    If the Constitution Party (or any other party “qualified” or not) chooses to support a candidate then it is participating in the election by providing support for the candidate, regardless of the party which the candidate prefers.

    California should recognize any party with a minimal number of registrants (say 200) that actually functions as a party. New parties would be recognized by petition only, with party registrations changed if the petition is successful. Write-in party registrations would be eliminated, with registrars making sure that any new/changed registrations are with a recognized party.

    In Top 2 elections, a candidate would express the preference for the party that they prefer. It is blatantly unconstitutional for California to restrict the expression of party preference by a candidate beyond ensuring the party exists.

    California might continue to permit the endorsements of larger parties to appear in the sample ballot, but perhaps even that restriction is not necessary.

    Qualification for the presidential general election ballot could be by petition, with support by party registrants presumed. For example, if the number of signatures required is 1/10 of 1% of the presidential total vote (13,039) then the current six parties would automatically qualify the winner of their presidential primary.

    If a party chooses to support a candidate who did not win its preferential primary, or was too small to qualify for a presidential primary, it could still qualify the candidate by petition.

  2. Richard Winger

    You make sense and I wish you would communicate with the Cal. Secretary of State’s office. The legal counsel is named Lowell Finley and his e-mail is lowell.finley@sos.ca.gov.

    • Jim Riley

      Which part?

      BTW, what is the purpose of formally withdrawing a proposed constitutional amendment, as opposed to simply not submitting any petitions?

  3. Demo Rep

    Every election is NEW.
    EQUAL ballot access tests for ALL candidates for the same office in the same area.

    Much too difficult for the SCOTUS morons to understand — thus the mere 46 years of hair-splitting MORON ballot access cases since Williams v. Rhodes in 1968.

  4. Mark Seidenberg

    Since, January 1, 2011 the new registrations have given only “party preferences” and not
    “affiliations”. Therefore, affiliations have
    gone down at preferences have gone up in number.

    Under Elections Code 2151(d) all affiliations
    are deemed party preferences, but party preferences are not deemed affiliations.

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg
    Vice Chairman, American Independent Party of California

    • Jim Riley

      Under Elections Code 6000, “preference” and “affiliation” mean the same thing, particularly with respect to the presidential primary.

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