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The Hidden Prop 14 Revolution

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Few progressives seem to see that Prop 14 is a revolution in the hidden phase of the CA election process. The easy-to-see parts are the primary and general election. The hidden, and maybe the most important, part is the petition and signature gathering phase. Under the old system, it was easy for qualified parties to get names on the ballot. That's why the Dems and Repubs had nearly 10 names each in the June 2010 primary election. People who felt the calling to run had their best chance of getting on the primary ballot by working through the officially qualified party apparatus. Under the old rules, they only had to get a small number of either Dem or Repub signatures on their petition for the ballot.

Since only candidates in qualified parties could get on the primary ballot, independents and non-qualified third party members had no chance at all. There were over three million of them, pre-Prop 14.

The revolution here is that the "qualified" status of a party is no longer relevant. The path to a spot on the primary ballot is now open to everyone who feels the calling. All an individual has to do is obtain the required number of valid signatures from any registered voter no matter what party the signer is registered in, even if no party preference.

The old system artificially propped up the two majors, and made them the only game in town. Now, the voters have stripped the two majors of one of the main reasons to work within them. There are no more privileges in law for being a qualified party. Everybody is out in the streets together. The competition for qualifying to get on the ballot is now starting from an entirely new place.

The D/Rs have the momentum from their dominant past; that is, office-holders they helped elect owe them favors, and so do the special interests they served, they have name recognition, and hefty contributors. But the hold they had on ordinary voters was always tenuous. Most people voted D/R because it was the only game in town, in a practical sense. These voters figured that voting for qualified third parties, or some write-in candidate, was a throw away protest vote, and they didn't want to throw their vote away.

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William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. Political Scientist, author, speaker, CEO for The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund, a CA Nonprofit Foundation My new book, Internet Voting Now, on Kindle, at Blog: (more...)
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