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New Study Says Electoral Reforms Failed To Shake Up State Politics

Sep 13, 2012

A new study says California’s two electoral reforms resulted in more competition and more open seats, but not in significant change.

The Public Policy Institute of California looked at the impact of two reforms. First, the new legislative and congressional districts drawn by an independent citizens’ commission. And second, the “top-two” primary system. That allows voters to cast ballots for any candidate regardless of party, but only the top two candidates advance.

The PPIC study found that every incumbent advanced to the fall election as did virtually every new candidate endorsed by a major party. Redistricting helped increase the number of competitive seats between the two major parties, but the tendency of Republicans and Democrats to live in different parts of California prevented bigger changes.

The top-two primary also resulted in the near elimination of minor party candidates in the fall election. The study suggests that the reforms were pretty much in line with what would have been expected under the old system.