Commentary: Top two is new in California
by Gail L. Pellerin
Apr 26, 2012 | 6525 views | 2 2 comments | 508 508 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Your ballot will look different for this June 5 Presidential Primary Election. The change is due to the fact that California voters passed Proposition 14 in June 2010, enacting a top-two primary voting system.

The shift means voters, instead of political parties, will decide who will appear on the ballot for the runoff in November for several races. These voter-nominated offices include U.S. Senate, Congress, state Senate and Assembly.

However, for U.S. president, the parties will continue to nominate their one person each, who will go to a run-off election in November. What that means for voters is this: If you want to vote for someone who is running for president in the Republican, Green, Libertarian or Peace and Freedom parties, you must be registered with that political party by the May 21 deadline. If you want to vote for someone who is running for president in the Democratic or American Independent parties, you must either be registered to vote with that political party or be registered as no party preference — aka nonpartisan, independent, decline to state — by the May 21 deadline.

Bottom line, four of the political parties require you to be registered with their political party in order to vote for one of their candidates for president, and two parties require you to be registered with their party or with no party. Be advised that voters will not get a ballot listing all candidates from all parties who are running for president.

All voters will, however, get a ballot with all candidates running for the different voter-nominated offices, including the 24 candidates running for U.S. Senate. Voters may vote for one person running for each office. The candidate’s party preference is printed on the ballot; however, if the candidate is not affiliated with a political party, the word “None” is printed after “Party Preference.”

The top two vote getters will appear on the ballot in November in a final runoff to determine who is elected to that office. The top-two primary rules do not require that the two candidates be from different political parties. So, you might see two Democratic or two Republican candidates in a runoff in November. Also, even if there are just two candidates running in the primary, they must both appear on the ballot again in November. There is no provision for a candidate in a voter-nominated office to win election in the June primary.

There will continue to be write-in spaces on the June ballot for voters to write in the names of qualified candidates or anyone they choose. Only votes for qualified write-in candidates, who have filed nomination papers by May 22, will be counted and certified. In November, there will not be write-in candidates or spaces to write in names.

The other contests on the ballot will look the same as before. For the nonpartisan office of county supervisor, if someone receives 50 percent of the vote plus one vote in the primary, that person will be elected. If no one receives 50 percent plus one, then the top two vote-getters will be in a runoff in November.

This June, there are also two state propositions for everyone and four local measures that will be on your ballot if you live in any of the following school districts: West Valley-Mission Community College District, Santa Cruz City high school and elementary school districts and Scotts Valley Unified School District.

For more information on the June 5 election, visit or call us at 454-2060.

Gail L. Pellerin, Santa Cruz County clerk, was appointed in 2004 and elected to four-year terms in 2006 and 2010.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Ezra Schmidt
July 07, 2012
Do you realize how vapid your comment is? Don't get to know the candidate, just vote for your party? Seriously?

Let's say you're a Democrat, and your Democrat candidate is a clueless, racist, chauvinist who just listens to his handlers because he doesn't know any better.

You still gonna vote for him?

I would hope not.
Stop change
July 06, 2012
This is really stupid. When you don't have time to read up on the candidates you could at least vote for your party because you know what the party stands for and it's views and philosophies.

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