Why California’s crossover primary is bad for democracy

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

California’s crossover presidential primary — touted as empowering the states’s 5.3 million unaffiliated, No Party Preference voters — actually disenfranchises them and others, by perpetuating a winner-take-all duopoly of limited choices, and getting little in return.  In the process, it distracts from needed reforms that could actually enable a more vibrant democracy. Since 1999, the […]

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Why the California Citizens Redistricting Commission needs a Green, American Independent, Libertarian or Peace and Freedom member

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

When the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) was established in 2008 (by Proposition 11), a super majority of its 14 members were to come from members of the state’s two largest political parties based upon voter registration – five from the largest party (in practice the Democrats), and five from the second largest (in practice […]

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Why Gavin Newsom was wrong in vetoing ranked-choice voting – and how to fix it. Part 2

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

A piece of resistance At a time when voting rights and diverse political representation are under attack in Washington DC and the courts, California has an opportunity to lead to strengthen our democracy.  RCV is the wave of the future for a multi-racial, multi-everything society that must continually seek consensus among diverse constituencies about complex […]

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Why Gavin Newsom was wrong in vetoing ranked-choice voting – and how to fix it. Part 1

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

For the second time in three years, a California Governor has vetoed important pro-democracy legislation, granting the option to use ranked-choice voting (RCV) to California’s general law cities – Jerry Brown in 2016 and Gavin Newsom this year.   For many in the electoral reform community, their official explanations rang hollow. When I was Mayor of […]

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Worried about social media and elections? What about our public media?

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

The recent controversy over Facebook’s decision not to fact-check political ads by politicians — combined with Twitter’s decision not to run any — has shown how intertwined our political culture is with what are de facto privately-owned, public information utilities. Whether and how to regulate social media giants – including whether to break them up […]

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Despite Close Congressional Races, California Must Change its Election System

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

There are arguably at least eight close California Congressional races on November 6th that pollsters and pundits tell us could go down to the wire.  The results could determine the majority in the U.S. House of Representative — and whether there will be legislative and oversight checks on the Trump presidency.And it all could come down […]

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Top Two Malfunctions, Democracy Suffers

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

When the State Legislature placed Top Two elections on the June 2010 ballot, there were no prior public hearings on the topic. Instead Top Two was added as part of a last minute, middle-of-the night deal to obtain a needed Republican vote to pass a Democratic-led budget. That means the very electoral system with which […]

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Vote Centers Wrong Answer to Increase Voter Turnout, Why Not Election State Holidays and Proportional Representation?

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

In attempting to increase voter turnout, California officials nibble around the edges of reform, while consistently missing the forest for the trees. The impending arrival of Vote Centers is the latest example. Vote Centers are meant to make it easier to vote — but would also represent a major shift in how we vote. Under […]

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Voters’ Right to Know Undermined by High Candidate Statement Fees, SoS Conflict of Interest


Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

Can we really say we have a democracy, if the only candidates that voters have information about, is those who can ‘pay to play’? Yet that’s the case here in California, where candidate space in the official statewide Voter Information Guide (and in the county sample ballots) – the only pieces of information that go […]

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Presidential Race Shows Fallacy Of California’s Top Two Primary System

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

If this year’s presidential race has demonstrated anything, it’s that large numbers of voters want a choice other than that offered by the Democratic and Republican parties. In our American democracy, do we deserve such choice? Or is it too ‘dangerous’ to leave choice up to the voters, so that we need to be ‘protected’ […]

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