Attorneys for minor political party candidates in California and a group of voters have filed a lawsuit to stop the implementation of Proposition 14. The complaint claims the switch to a top-two primary election will shut out minor party candidates and violate voters’ rights.
When California voters approved Prop 14 last month they changed how the state will conduct the next primary election. In 2012, any registered voter will be able to vote for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation. The top two vote-getters will compete in the general election.
Attorney Guatam Dutta says Californians may not have approved Prop 14 had they known about the companion legislation to implement it.
"People didn’t know about it. They didn’t know that if they voted for Prop 14 they were getting a package deal," Dutta said.
When California’s legislature voted to put Prop 14 on the ballot, they also enacted Senate Bill 6 to go into effect if voters approved the measure. Dutta contends that hidden part of the package violates voters’ and minor parties’ rights.
"People who vote for write-in candidates in the general election will not have their vote counted. They’ll be throwing their votes away without even being told that by voting for a write-in your vote won’t count. And candidates who are from smaller parties will not be able to list their party of choice on the ballot when they run for office," Dutta said.
Under Prop 14, candidates from parties other than state-recognized parties are only allowed to state that they have "No Party Preference" on the ballot.
Dutta has called that fundamentally “undemocratic.” He's suing the Secretary of State and county election officials on behalf of candidates from the Socialist Action and the Reform Party and voters from four counties, including Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Dutta hopes to get a hearing within a month at the California Superior Court in San Francisco on his motion for an injunction to stop the implementation of Prop 14.