Senator Lara’s and Assemblyman Gorell’s Bipartisan Undemocratic Vision


Lara, Gorell

Thanks to the Top-two primaries instituted by 2010’s Prop 14, it’s basically impossible for third parties and minority major parties to run in districts that overly swing for one political party.  Senate District 33 which Ricardo Lara represents is one of these heavily Democratic districts where no Republican cared to pony up the 1% filing fee. It was left to a member of the Peace and Freedom Party to become a write-in candidate to be on the ballot. It was his right to take advantage of the political process.  But now Senator Lara has introduced a bill, SB 712, that restricts write-in candidates from appearing on the general election ballot by requiring them to attain 1% of the total general election votes in the Top 2 primary.

Senator Lara is likely offended that his opponent only got 3 write-in primary votes to earn a place in the general election to run against him, but if his partisan breakdown in his district overwhelmingly leans his favor, why not let his opponent run without any obstacles?  Think of it as having a rule for the MLB wild card that states that you must have a .500 record for your team in order to be eligible for the wild card even though you are the best second place team in your league.

It’s not just a Democrat thing either – Republican Party Assemblyman Jeff Gorell also got in on the act of being undemocratic.  Jeff Gorell also aims to limit the ability to be a Top 2 nominee to those who can attain 1% of the total general election votes, with his bill AB 141.

Also I was notified that SB 712 and AB 141 is unconstitutional according to legislative counsel according to ballot access advocate Richard Winger and Senator Lara and Assemblyman Gorell  have their enabling bills up for consideration  SCA 12 and ACA 9 that should be defeated so we do not help make AB 141 and SB 712 constitutional.

There are some very unfair obstacles in these undemocratic pieces of legislation.  First, asking for 1% of the total number of general election voters in a primary election is like comparing apples to oranges.  Just like in comparisons between presidential elections and gubernatorial elections, there’s no consistency to these bills because number of voters vary depending on the type of election.

So, what if Congressional District 35 had no Republicans running in 2012 and 2014 and I wanted to challenge an unopposed Democrat, Gloria Negrete Mcleod?

According to the 2012 35th congressional district general election which had a total of 142,680 voters, one percent would require me to get 1427 write-in votes in the Top 2 primary to earn a place in the 2014 Top 2 General election for that district. However, there’s a difference between presidential years and gubernatorial years that make it an unfair and non-consistent standard of criterion. More voters vote in presidential years than in gubernatorial years. We can look at Jerry Lewis’ old 41th congressional district as an example.  In 2006 163,996 voters voted and in 2008, 258,700 voters voted.  We would need a consistent modifier that would be consistent for presidential years and gubernatorial years if we wanted a fair standard in Lara’s and Gorell’s undemocratic bills.

Honestly, voters deserve choice, and if there is no choice people will abstain from voting – and that reduces the mandate of our government.

I encourage people to call their state legislators in both the assembly and senate to oppose these four flawed bills AB 141, SCA 12, ACA 9 and SB 712.  The first move is to contact the senate and assembly committees in where these bills may be held, and the second move is to call your own state legislator to express your feelings about limiting voter choice.

About Matt Munson