Get Your Open Primary Voter Guide
The following guides have been created by the Independent Voter Project, the authors of California’s Open Primary Act, to provide elected officials, potential candidates, the media, and the general public with information about the important changes to California election law that will be implemented in the June 2012 Primary Election as a result of the Open Primary Act.
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This Week Ahead from the Independent Voter Network
Unions and state workers rally in Madison, Wisconsin in 2011. Credit: AP
Ready? Set? General Election, Go!
Newt Gingrich is expected to formerly drop his bid for president, now expected Wednesday, May 2nd.
President Obama will officially launch his reelection campaign on May 5th. This is comes as a surprise to some, as many have assumed he’s been campaigning for months. The launch will also come on the heels of the latest Obama Administration jobs report slated for release on Friday. The President also spoke at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington D.C. last night, a veritable who’s who of beltway media.
The next states on the Republican primary circuit are Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia, but won’t be held until May 8th. In the meantime, there is plenty of speculation abound as to who will fill the shoes of Governor Mitt Romney’s running mate and Vice Presidential nominee. Among the names floating around the “Veepstakes”: Sen. John Thune, Gov. Susana Martinez, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Rep. Paul Ryan, and the oh-so-exciting Sen. Rob Portman.
Countdown to California Open Primaries
The beginning of May marks the one month mark until California hosts its first nonpartisan primary on June 5th. Election campaigns will go into overdrive as for the first time ever citizens will cast their primary votes for candidates regardless of party affiliation.
In the coming weeks, IVN will be hosting online elections in select California congressional, assembly and state senate districts, as another excellent way to have your voice heard. Make sure to check IVN.us and your mailbox, for a unique voter code.
Interested in learning more about how redistricting and the open primary system is shaping races in the nation’s most populous state? Want to learn more about independent candidates garnering attention and support? Independent Voter Network recently brought you election coverage on a variety of contests, state and nationwide!
Our Capitol Correspondent, Lucy Ma, recently ran through the Top California State Assembly and Top California State Senate Races to Watch.
Independents are rejoicing in San Diego as an Independent Forum featuring several independents was a success. This event was immediately followed by the formal announcement of Movement to the Middle, a coalition of over 35 business executives dropping their partisan affiliations in favor of independent “No Party Preference” solutions.
We’re also following independent candidates nationwide: Interesting Independent Senate Candidates
But Wait–What About Ron Paul?
The Texas Congressman continues to surprise the mainstream media with his staying power, despite following a prescribed plan in the works since the 2008 elections. IVN writers Chris Hinyub and W.E. Messamore took a look at what most are just beginning to realize…is working:
Ron Paul’s Secret Plan To Win the GOP Nomination
Ron Paul, In It to Win It
Looking Towards Tampa: Ron Paul’s Delegate Strategy
May Day & IVN’s Labor Focus
May 1st is traditionally celebrated as May Day, to celebrate and honor the accomplishments and struggles of workers and their fight for better wages and working conditions. Internationally, May Day is celebrated with this focus on labor as an International Workers Day.
In the United States, however, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deemed May 1st to be Law Day in 1958. It was a conscience move away from the populist tone of May Day. Law Day is primarily used to reflect on the rule of law in the foundation of the country and promote law education.
This year, activists will march in Los Angeles to mark May Day. A coalition of Occupy Wall Street protesters, unions and immigration rights supporters is expected.
The coming week on Independent Voter Network, our writers will dive deeper into the various issues surrounding labor and unions, as new economic numbers are set for release. If you have an opinion, make sure to Speak For Yourself!
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Court Rules that Washington State Top-Two Ballots Do Not Confuse Voters
The Ninth Circuit of appeals today handed down a unanimous opinion upholding the Washington State Top Two system. The court was addressing the question of whether the State of Washington had designed its election ballots “in a manner that eliminates the risk of widespread voter confusion.” This question was left unaddressed in a previous court case, Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party (“Grange”).
In the court’s opinion, written by Judge Raymond Fisher, he said that the state had designed the ballots in an appropriate way:
“The ballots, and related informational materials, inform voters that, although each candidate for partisan office may specify a political party that he or she prefers, a candidate’s preference does not imply that the candidate is nominated or endorsed by the party, or that the party approves of or associates with that candidate. Given the design of the ballot, and in the absence of evidence of actual voter confusion we hold that Washington’s top two primary system, as implemented by the state, does not violate the First Amendment associational rights of the state’s political parties.”
According to former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, “This is a great day for individual voters’ right to speak for themselves without the interference of political parties. We look forward to California’s first Open Primary Top Two election this June.”
The court also affirmed the district court’s previous dismissal of the plaintiffs’ ballot access and trademark claims and reversed the district court’s order granting the state’s request for reimbursement of attorney’s fees paid in accordance with a 2006 stipulation.
The court’s full opinion.
Information about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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Poll Shows How Independents Will Fare In California Open Primaries
The possible impact of Independent candidates running in the June Open Primary varies dramatically depending on the Legislative or Congressional district you are looking at according to Polling conducted by IVN.us
IVN conducted polls in six Congressional Districts in regions throughout the state. Districts polled were chosen in an effort to get a feel for how voters in districts with varying political and demographic makeups viewed the Open Primary leading into the candidate-filing period that begins on February 13th.
The survey asked voters to express their opinions on specific changes brought about by the ballot measure passed by the voters in 2010.
In all districts and among all voters the most popular provision of the measure was the change allowing Independent candidates to run in the June primary rather than waiting to run in the November general election.
Voters also indicated that they are more likely to support candidates that publicly support Open Primary.
The poll tested theoretical candidate matchups in an effort to measure the impact Independent candidates could have in different political conditions.
In addition to generic matchups, pollsters tested known local political figures running as Independents in order to get a more realistic picture of the effect an Independent candidate could have on the race. The theoretical Independent candidates were chosen among publicly known figures with varying name ID and favorable/unfavorable ratings. They are NOT actual candidates for Congress.
One of the districts polled was the strongly Democratic 30th Congressional district where veteran Democratic incumbents Howard Berman and Brad Sherman have been thrown into the same district by reapportionment.
There has been much speculation that this seat might produce a Democrat vs. Democrat runoff. However, IVN poll results suggest this is not likely with or without an Independent in the race.
In fact, Congressman Sherman would appear to have a firm lead in the district where he polled 34% to Republican Mark Reed’s 30% with Howard Berman well behind at 14%.
IVN asked the question again with former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg in the race as a theoretical Independent candidate and the results were:
Berman (D) 14%
Sherman (D) 30%
Reed (R) 21%
So, despite Hertzberg’s strong name ID and high favorable rating, the district appears inclined to produce a Democrat vs. Republican runoff with or without an Independent in the race. The key to this was Sherman holding on to 32% of Independents even with Hertzberg in the race who captured 29% of Independents.
These results contrasted sharply with results in another district gaining national attention. In San Diego’s 52nd district, Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray was forced to move by reapportionment to avoid a head to head with fellow Republican Darrell Issa.
This district is just slightly more Republican than Democratic and has one of the highest Independent registrations in the state. Obama leads in this district 49% to 37% against a generic Republican, and Feinstein polls at 44% to 40%. Independents break 57% for the President and 45% for Feinstein.
Voters in this district like the Open Primary by slightly higher margins than the state as a whole 62% to 24% (Independents: 69% to 24%). They also agree with candidates that argue that the best way to shake up Washington would be to elect candidates not connected to political parties, 59% to 33% (Independents 69% to 27%).
Voters in all the districts say they are more likely to support a candidate who supports the Open Primary by wide margins. Their strongest argument for supporting Open Primary was the ability of Independents to run in the Primary rather than the General election. In the 52nd, 78% of all voters and 85% of Independents supported this change.
The most interesting comparison to come out of these two districts is that the Independent candidate in San Diego ran so much better than the LA candidate despite the fact that he had lower name ID and lower favorability ratings the LA candidate. Some of this is a reflection of the relative popularity of the other candidates but it also is a reflection of the stronger anti-partisan attitudes of the Independent voters in the San Diego district.
IVN first tested a four way race pitting Bilbray against two Democrats and a Tea Party Republican and got the following results:
Brian Bilbray (R) 27%
Wayne Iverson (R) 6%
Scott Peters (D) 13%
Lori Saldana (D) 21%
When pollsters added former State Senator Steve Peace as an Independent candidate, Bilbray held his base but Saldana’s second place lead slipped to within the polls margin of error leaving Peters, Saldana, and Peace in a statistical dead heat.
But, what set this district apart from the Berman Sherman contest was the projected November two way race. When Bilbray was matched against the Democrats the race was knotted up in identical 38% to 39% statistical ties.
But, when pitted head to head against Peace running as an Independent, Bilbray trailed 33% to 40% with Peace dominating the Independent vote 55% to 12%.
IVN will release more results and analysis from our statewide polling next week in the run-up to the February 13 filling period.
IVN polled 1800 people with a margin of error of +/- 3%.
***Editors Note: The Berman-Sherman district was originally reported as the 24th congressional district. The 30th congressional district is the correct district and the article has been updated to reflect the reporting error.***
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Arizona Independents eyeing Open Elections/Open Government Act
The number of voters who refuse to affiliate with any political party continues to rise in Arizona. According to the most recent registration report from Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, released late last month, Independents now account for 32.9% of the state’s registered voters making the unaffiliated the second largest bloc of registered voters in the state, ahead of the Democrats and steadily gaining on Republicans. Only 30.5% of the state’s voters are registered with the Democratic party and 35.6% continue to affiliate with the GOP.
Over the last fifteen years, the number and relative percentage of Independent voters in the state has more than doubled as voters have left the major parties in droves. In 1998, 44.7% of Arizona voters were registered Republicans, 40.3% were registered with the Democratic party and just 14.1% refused to affiliate with any political party. Given the current trend, it is only a matter of time before Independents constitute the largest share of the state’s total electorate. And it may come to pass sooner than one might think.
“We’re actually projecting that independents will outnumber both Republicans and Democrats [in Arizona] by November,” said Ted Downing of Independent Voting in a recent report for KTAR news.
Despite their numbers, Independents have no representation in the state’s government, which is dominated by the Republican party. In the State Senate, there are 21 Republicans and 9 Democrats, while the State House has 40 Republicans and 20 Democrats. However, their influence is apparent in other ways, such as the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC), which is chaired by an Independent. The IRC was created by a ballot initiative that was passed by voters in 2000.
This year, Arizona’s Independents may be especially interested in another ballot initiative that would significantly alter the state’s political system. The Open Elections/Open Government Act would alter the state’s constitution to create a top-two open primary system like that passed by California voters in 2010. The Act is sponsored by an organization called the Open Government Committee, which is chaired by Paul Johnson, a prominent Independent and former Democratic mayor of Phoenix.
In order to qualify for the ballot, the initiative would need around 260,000 valid petition signatures by early July. The petition campaign was begun last summer and, according to Ballot Access News, the Open Government Committee has already collected 100,000 signatures in the effort. They are aiming for 300,000. A concurrent resolution that would create a top-two open primary system has been introduced into the state legislature by Representatives Chabin and Pancrazi.
Under top-two style primary systems, all candidates for a given office – regardless of party affiliation – appear on the same primary election ballot, and all voters – regardless of party affiliation – may vote in that election. The top-two vote-getters in the primary then proceed to the general election.
A poll from last November conducted by ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy found that 58% of Arizonans, including 67% of Independents, expressed support for such a system. On their website, the Open Government Committee writes:
“More and more voters believe our elections are closed affairs offering little choice and few results.”
Ironically, however, critics of top-two style primaries level the very same charge against that system, pointing out that it needlessly reduces the choices available to voters by ensuring that only two candidates appear on the general election ballot. Instead, they suggest alternative voting methods such as instant runoff or approval voting, or other electoral reforms such as the implementation of proportional representation.
See this article for previous coverage of the initiative at IVN.
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