Voter Guide: How does the top-two primary work?

Published: Monday, Jun. 2, 2014 - 9:12 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Jun. 2, 2014 - 11:51 pm

How are primary elections conducted in California?

Under California’s “top two” primary system, voters in state and congressional races once again will choose from a ballot that includes candidates of all political leanings. Here’s a rundown from the California secretary of state about how it works:

• All candidates for voter-nominated offices are listed on one ballot and only the top two vote-getters in the primary election – regardless of party preference – move on to the general election.

• The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act does not apply to candidates running for county central committee or local office.

If a candidate receives a majority of the vote (50 percent+1) in the primary election, will there still be a general election?

Yes. The top two vote-getters move on to the general election regardless of party preference or whether one candidate receives a majority of all votes cast in the primary election. Only candidates running for state Superintendent of Public Instruction or candidates for local voter-nominated offices in special elections can win outright by getting a majority of the vote (50 percent + 1) in the primary election.

If there are only two candidates in the primary election, is a general election required?

Yes. The top two vote-getters move on to the general election regardless of candidate pool size, party preference, or whether one candidate receives the majority of all votes cast in the primary election.



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