’50 plus 1′ election rule
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The Independent Voter Project, or IVP, says candidates winning elections outright in a primary is un-Democratic and deprives voters of their right to a meaningful election.
This is called the 50 percent, plus 1 rule where an election ends with the primary, eliminating a November runoff between the top two candidates.
There’s certainly been an impact. In 2012, five of seven citywide races ended in the primary. In 2014, three of four races failed to reach November.
This 50 percent, plus 1 primary rule has been part of the city elections since 1989. The term, primary, itself implies another election will follow, but in many cases, there hasn’t been a runoff.
This is part of why primaries traditionally have low voter turnout. With a general election five months away, most voters are not yet engaged.
"Part of the discussion develops between that June and November election.That’s when we have a heightened sensitivity, the public discourse, the issues, and when we stop an election in June, we stop the discourse," said Chad Peace, of the IVP.
Peace, and Jeff Marston, are developing an initiative to eliminate the 50 percent, plus 1 rule. Their initiative calls the rule un-Democratic because more than half of the voters wait to case a ballot until November, in effect they’re disenfranchised.
"Come June to November there’s no opportunity to participate in a dialogue about issues, frankly when most people are participating, most people are paying attention," Marston said.
They said the rule disproportionately impacts minorities and non-partisan voters who are substantially under represented at a critical time in the elections process.
"They wait until the general election because they believe that’s the important stage of the election," Peace said.
"These are people that for whatever reason don’t have an opportunity to participate in the full process and we just don’t believe that’s right," Marston said.
"We keep talking to less and less voters, and those voters we should be bringing back into the process just keep getting more and more pushed out of the process," Peace added.
These low propensity voters in the primary tend to show up in November in large numbers. They tune in late to the campaigns.
"It’s a different campaign being between June and November as February and June is another classic reason to allow this to happen so people get the whole picture," Marston said.
The Independent Voter Project has been working on this initiative for six months with the idea of putting it on the ballot in 2018.