Home>Articles>Assemblyman Kiley Introduces Constitutional Amendment to End CA’s Jungle Primary

Boy looks under voting booth at Ventura Polling Station for California primary Ventura County, California, Ventura County, CA, Jun. 7, 2016. (Photo: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock)

Assemblyman Kiley Introduces Constitutional Amendment to End CA’s Jungle Primary

‘The top-two primary has spawned cynical campaign tactics’

By Katy Grimes, June 22, 2022 8:03 am

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) announced Tuesday he authored and introduced a Constitutional Amendment to allow voters vote to end California’s Top 2 Primary election system, also known as the “Jungle Primary.”  Assembly Constitutional Amendment 16 would require a two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and the Senate, as well as from a majority of California voters.

“The Top 2 Primary is making a farce of our democracy with gamesmanship, fluke outcomes, and the disenfranchisement of independent voters,” said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley. “After 10 years of broken promises, it’s time to end this failed experiment once and for all.”

California’s electorate adopted its “top-two” primary system at the June 2010 statewide election by passing Proposition 14. It became operative on January 1, 2011 and amended Section 5 of Article II of the California Constitution. Globe contributor Chris Micheli recently explained.

Prop. 14 added to Section 5(a) that “the candidates who are the top two vote-getters at a voter-nominated primary election for a congressional or state elective office shall, regardless of party preference, compete in the ensuing general election.”

“Proposition 14 created a single ballot for primary elections, rather than multiple ballots based on political party, for elected statewide and legislative officials, members of the U.S. Senate, and members of the U.S. House,” Ballotpedia reports. “The measure prohibited political parties from nominating candidates in a primary, although political parties were allowed to endorse, support, or oppose candidates. Proposition 14 did not affect partisan primary elections for president or political party officers.”

Kiley continued: “Proponents of the Top 2 Primary system argued that it would lead to increased voter participation, less partisanship, and more competitive races, but none of these outcomes have materialized. ACA 16 (Kiley) would address a number of bipartisan frustrations with the current primary system that has led to multiple instances of Republicans and Democrats being unrepresented in November legislative runoffs.”

The San Diego Union Tribune editorial board wrote in 2018 about the “hated” Jungle Primary and why, even as they continued to support it:

Now, eight years later, what’s come to be known as the “jungle primary” is again facing ferocious criticism from partisans.

Democrats hate the fact that with so many Democratic candidates splitting the vote, it’s possible that two Republicans could advance to the fall runoff in some of the seven highly contested California House seats now held by the GOP. Republicans hate the fact that there’s a chance two Democrats could advance in the governor’s race, thus potentially depressing GOP turnout in November.

Their reasoning for continued support is interesting:

In an era of heavy partisanship and polarization, the view that it is unhealthy to give too much gate-keeping power to the two major parties is more appealing than ever — especially given their declining support. Gallup has reported way more independents than either Democrats or Republicans since 2011, and the gap is widening. Last year, Gallup found independents at 42 percent, Democrats at 29 percent and Republicans at 27 percent.

A recent op ed by Ron Nehring, former chairman of the California Republican Party, and Steve Maviglio, Sacramento-based Democratic strategist, excoriated the top 2 primary:

“Just as the top-two primary has created opportunities to game the system, it has produced quirky results that have denied millions of Californians the chance to vote for like-minded candidates in general elections. Two out of three U.S. Senate races and 12% of all congressional races under this system have featured two candidates from the same party.”

“The top-two primary has spawned cynical campaign tactics, forced millions of voters to choose between two unsatisfactory options in the fall and produced bizarre results. It’s time to declare this experiment a failure and move on. “

It’s not clear if voters feel the same as those who are deeply involved in politics.

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15 thoughts on “Assemblyman Kiley Introduces Constitutional Amendment to End CA’s Jungle Primary

  1. Where will the CaGOP find another warrior like Kevin if he goes east? Someone with guts, someone who knows how to get his message in the media,
    Kinda wish he would stick around and help us turn this ship of state in the right direction.
    Good candidate for Guv!

    1. Tomorrow, I am not in Kiley’s District 3, but I continue to support him with $$$. We need him in Congress short-term to help rescind all of the damage done by Pelosi and her Democrats and RINOs like Liz Cheney. Also, we need him to fight Newsom when he does his POTUS run (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/axelrod-suggests-gavin-newsom-democrats-replacement-biden). Kiley will be the MOST qualified to counter ANY aspect of Newsom’s campaign since he has been leading the fight against those policies in the CA legislature. Long term, I expect him to return to California (after serving 2 terms) and running for Governor.

  2. This may be an opportune moment to get rid of the “jungle primary”. With 22 days left until the “final” vote tally, it looks like Republicans and Others have done better overall in the state and district primary results. So, in some districts like mine, people may actually HAVE a choice in November. Also, Kiley may actually defeat the Democrat in his district. He is closing the gap and is now within about 1700 votes of Jones. The “top two” concept looks like it may have hurt the Democrats more, overall, this time around. More of THEIR candidates running on the ticket may have resulted in dispersal of Democrat votes among theirs and left Republicans and Others with a better chance to gain the second spot. Democrats may be having second thoughts about running this type of primary again in the future.

  3. I’m glad to see this, and it sounds as though both Dems and Repubs want an end to the so-called Jungle Primary. Fingers crossed on its journey and passage; it would be a very good thing to wave buh-bye to it!

  4. We voted AGAINST it back then and we AGREE that it’s been a political DISASTER for California and should be RETIRED immediately (along with the D0mini0n voting systems that corrupt former Secretary of State Alex Padilla bought and GAVE AWAY to many counties (Ventura among them) before he skated off to his swamp in D.C.

    CLEAN UP California elections and watch this state turn at LEAST Purple, if not RED…..

    The DVS systems have an “adjudication” feature that gives those running the ballots through the system the ability to ADJUST the sensitivity of the reader so that MULTIPLE ballots can be kicked out and the “intent of the voter” interpreted by the person processing the ballots and REPLACED and RE-RUN…

    Is THIS why it takes a month to finalize and tabulate the elections these days??? D0mini0n systems must GO AWAY….

    1. I believe the Contract between Dominion and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors expires January 2023. Past CA Secretary of State, Alex Padilla held a 2 Day Conference regarding the Future of CA Elections.
      A Candidate for a Congressional Seat mentioned that Padilla wanted all 58 CA Counties to purchase Dominion Voting and Tabulating Equipment and that 40 CA Counties complied. Why would the 40 CA County Board of Supervisors sign a contract for Electronic Voting and Tabulating Equipment that they cannot Investigate? Dominion is Proprietary and doesn’t allow any investigation except by employees of Dominion. How many times during the count of Votes does Dominion do maintenance on their equipment? Doesn’t it make sense that our Votes could be hacked, manipulated, and rearranged for certain candidates to win? Good example is a Documentary “Hacking Democracy” where a retired teacher/grandmother and her band of activists set out to answer one question: How does America count its Votes? They took on the Voting Machine Industry, exposing alarming security holes in America’s trusted voting machines. They reveal a broken system riddled with secrecy, incompetent election officials and electronic voting machines that can be programmed to steal elections. But proving our votes can be stolen without a trace shows a duel between the Diebold voting machines and a computer hacker-with America’s democracy at stake. I compare Elections and electronic Voting and Tabulating Equipment to pulling a lever on an electronic slot machine. Didn’t the Dominion Corp. buy Diebold Corp.? It’s time for the people to change the course of how our Votes are Counted/Tabulated and for the Voter to show a form of ID to a local precinct Poll Worker – like the good old days.

  5. The jungle primary is also gamed by democrat dark money who supports a weak republican candidate in the primary and then pulls their funding in the general.
    California as a state is irretrievably corrupt from top to bottom.

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