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New voting system creates controversy

By Tyler May, tmay@krcrtv.com
Published On: Jun 03 2014 08:23:37 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 03 2014 08:56:12 PM CDT
CHICO, Calif. -

California voters are getting their first full taste of the new top two primary system in Tuesday’s 2014 primary election.

In past elections the top political candidates would face off in November, but now the top two candidates for each statewide office or congressional seat regardless of party get to move on.

As is expected supporters and dissenters have differing views.

“You don't have to bog your mind with all your different choices,” said supporter, Everlyn Butler.

“It's a communist party system,” said Democratic campaign strategist, Bob Mulholland. “Same party and you got two candidates.”

This is California’s first major test of how this top-two primary system will work. Supporters believe it will make it easier to vote with a full list of candidates to choose from, but critics said it's pushing votes away.

“The turnout of minor party candidates has dropped,” said Mulholland. “The turnout for minor party voters has dropped. So basically, we are excluding people.”

In the past the list of candidates a voter saw on their ballot depended on their registered party. The change to this system first proposed in 2010 as a way to make voting decisions less partisan.

“It’s a terrible system,” said Mulholland. “Voters go in the booth in dozens of locations around California to find one party and only two candidates. It's a terrible system.”

“Back in the day, we didn't have that problem and people still voted. So get with it,” said Butler.

Election officials are predicting a very poor turnout in the 2014 primary election Tuesday. Political advisers believe this system could drive away even more voters in future elections.

They predict efforts to overturn the change will take hold before the next primary in 2016.