Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Thomas Kim

Reader 2

David Menefee-Libey

Rights Information

© 2013 Juliet M. Carnoy

Abstract

Elections are a core element in democracy, and a number of analysts have identified electoral participation of eligible voters as an important indicator of how well democracy is functioning at a particular time in a particular place (see, for example, Burnham, Elections as Democratic Institutions, 1987). In such studies, a major lament about U.S. democracy has been the decline in citizens’ participation in elections.

In 2010, California voters passed Proposition 14. Proposition 14 enforces an open primary in which the top two candidates who garner the highest vote totals proceed to the general election, regardless of party. Supporters of Proposition 14 believe that a Top-Two primary will create more moderate candidates, which will appeal to a larger cross section of the electorate and increase competition and voter turnout. Opponents of Proposition 14 claimed the opposite, and believe that the constitutional amendment will decrease voter turnout due to lack of plurality, as write-ins will be eliminated and only two candidates will contend in the general election.

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