Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act (Proposition 14)


A new open primary law took effect in 2012.  The “Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act” requires that all candidates for a voter-nominated office be listed on the same ballot.  Previously known as partisan offices, voter-nominated offices are state legislative offices, U.S. congressional offices, and state constitutional offices.

This means that a voter could cast his/her vote for any candidate, regardless of what party preference the voter indicated on his/her voter registration form.  Only the two candidates receiving the most votes – regardless of party preference – would then go to the General Election ballot, regardless of vote totals.  Even if a candidate received a majority of the vote (50 percent + 1), he/she must be in a run-off in the General Election.  And, even if there were only two candidates in the open primary, a General Election is still required.

A write-in candidate from a Primary Election can only move on to the General Election if the candidate is one of the top two vote-getters in the Primary Election.  The voter may not write-in a name for a voter-nominated contest in the General Election.

California’s “Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act” does not apply to candidates running for Unites States President or local offices.