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A group of voters from minor political parties is challenging California's new top-two primary system in the courts, arguing that the election process established under Proposition 14 is unconstitutional.

A lawsuit filed Monday in Alameda Superior Court claims that the new system, which sends only the two candidates who get the most votes in the primary, regardless of political party affiliation, to the general election, "severely burdens voter, candidate and party associational rights."

"By limiting access to the general election ballot, Prop. 14 effectively bars small political parties, their candidates, and their members from effective political association, precisely at the moment when the highest number of voters are engaged in the electoral process," the complaint reads.

The lawsuit also argues that the new system will make it more difficult for minor parties to remain recognized by the state as an official party, echoing a concern raised by the political party leaders who opposed Proposition 14 on the June 2010 ballot. Most minor parties qualify for the ballot by running a candidate for statewide office who receives at least 2 percent of the votes cast in a gubernatorial general election. Limiting the number of candidates on the general election ballot to two will effectively eliminate that option, minor party advocates say.

The complaint, posted below, was filed on behalf of eight voters registered with the Democratic, Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties. The suit claims that the plaintiffs will "suffer a substantially diminished ability to effectively participate in the electoral process as members of small political parties" under the new system.

This isn't the first legal challenge targeting Proposition 14. Several lawsuits seeking to block the law drafted to implement the new system have so far been rejected by state and federal courts.

Prop. 14 Complaint



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