There’s justifiable worry about whether Russian hackers might disrupt American elections, particularly in crucial swing states, and create questions of legitimacy, or even crisis, around the presidency.
But in California, there’s no reason to worry.
Russia can go ahead and hack our elections. It won’t make any difference.
California has made our elections hack-proof—not because of any technology fix but through decades of making sure our elections don’t matter much.
We’ve made ourselves a one-party state. No hacker can prevent Hillary Clinton from winning here.
And we’ve reinforced that one party with a top-two system that reduces real political competition. No matter what the vote tallies are in November, California will elect a Democrat as U.S. senator – because two Democrats, via top two, were the only candidates permitted on what we call the general election ballot.
And our legislature is so constrained by our misbegotten constitution, our sea of regulation, our many court decisions, and previous ballot measures that the lawmakers we elect can’t do all that much of consequence, especially when it comes to money. They are mostly a clean-up crew, trying to make our messy system a little less messy.
And ballot measures? Yes, direct democracy is supposed to be a citizen’s game, but we don’t put measures on the ballot because a citizen’s idea is judged to be good. No, we rely purely on money. Of course, much of that money is wasted. Most measures lose, because people don’t understand them or don’t trust them – there are so many, and they are long and complicated and loaded with unintended consequences. Measures are next to impossible to change once they pass, but they can be blunted—by confusion, court cases, or just the complexity of all the other constitutional and legal provisions that they join.
This year’s measures don’t do all that much—there are modest tax increases, legalization of a drug that is already effectively legal, a gun control measure that puts in place provisions that the legislature already passed.
So hack away, Russia. The more time you waste on California elections, the less time you have to mess with elections that actually matter.