Promising Results from Redistricting and Open Primaries in California

“The system has quickly propelled California from a symbol of legislative dysfunction to a blueprint for successful electoral reform.”

In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 11, which handed redistricting over to an independent commission. In 2010, California passed Proposition 14, which established nonpartisan, top-two primaries for all non-presidential federal and state elections. This system allows California’s independent and unaffiliated voters (comprising 24% of the state’s voting eligible population) to participate in all congressional and state primaries, with the top two candidates advancing to the general election.

A recent study indicates that, even after only five years, California is seeing the benefits from these changes. The research concludes:

  • California now has the most competitive elections in America.
  • A record number of incumbents have been defeated in California over the last five years
  • California legislators have broken with their parties on key votes
  • Multiple current and former legislators embrace California’s top two primaries
  • Public approval ratings for the California state legislature have skyrocketed.

The study concludes, “The system has quickly propelled California from a symbol of legislative dysfunction to a blueprint for successful electoral reform.”

This material is excerpted from the article by Stephanie Geier of Open Primaries, published October 26, 2017. For a full report go here.