Another problem with the top two system: It makes liars of most of Californians.

I’m not just talking about the state officials, media members and others who persist in labeling our June elections “primaries” when they are the exact opposite of primaries, which involve parties picking their candidates for a general election. California eliminated primaries when it decided to go with top two.

No, there is another lie even more widespread, and fundamental. You may hear constantly about all the Democrats in California, or about the declining numbers of Republicans. You may even think yourself to be a Democrat or a Republican or a member of some other political party.

No, you’re not.

There are no Democrats in California anymore. And there are no Republicans in California. No party members at all. And this is because of top two.

Look at a voter registration form. When you register to vote, you don’t join a party. You indicate a party “preference.” Why? The short answer: it makes top two legal.

Top two replaces party primaries with a “jungle” system of two rounds of votes to collect candidates. A previous attempt to do this in California was thrown out by the courts, who saw it as infringing on the rights of parties and party members.

So to make top two clearly legal, it included provisions ending party registration. You can express a party preference – or if you’re like me, you express “No Party Preference” – but it’s just a preference.

This is a sleight of hand. It’s like saying you can’t be gay—but you can be a man with a preference for men. And our language doesn’t acknowledge the change we’ve made – we still talk about Democrats and Republicans, even though, technically, there aren’t any.

To me, this issue of naming is minor, compared to the error of saying that our June elections – which are very important and should be thought of as general election – are primaries. The “primary” nomenclature very likely depresses turnout since about 3 million fewer people show up in elections labeled primaries as opposed to elections labeled general.

But it does expose, in another way, that top two is built on lies. And that preserving the top two system requires us to keep lying to ourselves, in ways large and small