A ballot initiative to install a “top-two” primary has begun in Florida, as circulators are now petitioning on the initiative’s behalf.
According to a recent article in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, the petition was filed by All Voters Vote Inc., a Tallahassee-based group. It is not known yet who is behind the effort.
In a “top-two,” also known as “two only” primary, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, participate in the primary election. Only the top two vote getters appear on the general election ballot.
Two only severely damages the chances for alternative parties and independents to participate in the general election, except where seats are uncontested.
For an initiative to appear on the ballot in Florida, signatures equal to 8% of the votes cast for President in the most recent presidential election are required. This initiative would need 677.935 signatures to get on the ballot.
Currently, California and Washington have two-only elections. In addition, if the highest-finishing candidate for state or federal office in Louisiana in the general election does not have a majority of the votes, then the top two finishers in the election face off in a separate election several weeks later. Louisiana does not have a primary election prior to the general election.
Two-only initiatives have been on the ballot six times recently. It won in California (2010) and Washington (2004). It lost in Arizona (2012), Calfornia (2004), and twice in Oregon (2008 and 2014).