By: Jonathan Barsky
California currently employs an unusual electoral system, which is colloquially known as the “Top Two” primary, in both federal and state elections. Under this system, all of the candidates are thrown into a nonpartisan “jungle primary” that takes place in June and the two candidates who earn the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the November general election. The only exception to these rules is the presidential election, which still remains open to all major party candidates and several minor party and write-in candidates.
Over two posts, I will address potential constitutional flaws in California’s primary system. This post will discuss a Fourteenth Amendment injury that voters suffer stemming from the Due Process Clause, while the second post will analyze a First Amendment objection rooted in the associational rights of political parties, focusing on California Democratic Party v. Jones and Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party.