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Primary race seeks just 2

Posted: May 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.

If you think of it in terms of “American Idol,” California’s open primary June 5 is easier to understand.

The top-two candidates in any race go on to perform another day, with that day happening Nov. 6 — the day of the General Election.

The details for California voters are all spelled out in the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, which requires all those running for public office to be listed on the same ballot.

The Act identifies public office as “voter-nominated office” as opposed to the “party-nominated offices,” which historically put more weight on party affiliation over individual candidates.

Under the new rules, individuals reign supreme and party affiliation takes a back seat, according to the Act and representatives of California’s Secretary of State office.

“The (Top Two Candidates) Act actually simplifies the whole voting process,” office spokeswoman Shannon Velayas said Thursday.
“Voters get to choose from the entire pool of candidates as opposed to just a portion of them based on their party preference.”

Voter-nominated offices include state legislative offices, U.S. congressional offices and state constitutional offices.

The act allows any voter to vote for any candidate, regardless of what party preference he or she indicated on the voter registration form.

However, anyone showing up for the June open primary expecting to vote across party lines for president will be disappointed. For that position, choices will be limited according to party affiliation.

The new open primary system also does not apply to county party central committees. Those offices are still chosen according to nominees put forward by political parties, such as Republican and Democrat parties.

Local offices are also exempt, but those are usually nonpartisan, anyway.

Like TV’s popular singing competition “American Idol,” those with the least amount of votes after the June primary go home. And, in the case of this year’s General Election, their names will not appear on the November ballot.

Only the two candidates receiving the most votes — regardless of party preference — move on to the general election, regardless of vote totals.

If a candidate receives a majority of the vote (50 percent +1), a general election still must be held. Even if there are only two candidates in the open primary, a general election is still required.

Anyone wanting more information on the open primary is urged to visit the state’s website at or call (800) 345-VOTE (8683).


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