Presentation: Update on State Laws affecting GPCA ballot status

Presentation: Update on State Laws affecting GPCA ballot status

Sponsor: Coordinating Committee
Background: Proposition 14 was passed by in the June 2010 California primary and changed the way the state conducts its elections. Party primaries are eliminated and no longer does a candidate from every ballot qualified party appear on the General Election ballot.  This threatens the Green Party's ballot status by effectively taking away one of the two ways it could retain that status - by appearing on the General Election ballot and receiving at least 2% in a race for a statewide constitutional office like Governor or Secretary of State.
To compenstate for this, the state legislature and the Secretary of State's office had begun discussions about modifying the thresholds for ballot status.  There were two approaches initially being discussed - changing the voter registration threshold and making the vote test occur in the primary election instead of the general. 
In February 2012, the GPCA submitted a memo to the State Assembly Elections Committee and communicated by phone with the Secretary of State's office, supporting lower the voter registration threshold, but opposing the primary vote test.
Specifically the GPCA's position is that the threshold for achieving/maintaining ballot status be voter registrations equal to 1/3 of 1% of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial general election, or 5% in a petition. The 1/3 of 1% was the threshold included in Prop 62 in 2004, which was a less radical Top Two primary initiative that did not pass. 
The 1/3 of 1% would contrast to the current 1% for voter registrations and 10% in a petition.  Among the Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties, only the Green Party has over the 1% and the others have maintained their status via the 2% in a statewide general election over the years.  But both would have enough registrations to retain ballot status under the 1/3 of 1% threshold.
The GPCA rejected using the primary vote as a test for party ballot status. No state in the US has ever used a primary election for this purpose, in part because the incentives in a regular primary election are different than a general, and don't provide an accurate assesement of the relative strength of different parties.  In addition, the added nature of the Top Two primary disincentivizes voters from voting for candidates from smaller parties who are unlikely to make it to the general election.  Then there are the issues of whether one counts every candidate from a particular party or only the top vote getter. Richard Winger of Ballot Access News in San Francisco advised the GPCA on this issue and the GPCA has also been in contact with the Peace and Freedom Party to discuss a coordination of our positions.
However, it appears the Proposition 14 advocates have enough sway in the legislature to prevent any bill from even being introduced that would advocate the change the GPCA seeks. Conversely, the GPCA has notified the Secretary of State's office that rather than supporting any primary vote test, it would prefer to wait to see if the Supreme Court overturns Top Two primaries in 2013 and/or if the case against SB6 prevails and then if not, the issue could be revisited before the 2014 elections, which is when all these factors come into play again and the ballot status of California's smaller parties decided.
Report: An update will be provided on where this issues stands at the time of the GPCA General Assembly.