By Romeo Agbalog, Executive Director, Kern County Farm Bureau
Can you believe we are already in June? It appears as though we are sprinting towards the end of 2022 as we reach the mid-way point of the year, and your local Farm Bureau continues its work with advocacy, education, and promotion of local area agriculture. For example, next month the Teachers Ag Seminar will be here and the month after that, we will hold our annual Save Water, Drink Beer event. Specific dates and times on both events will be forthcoming.
Back to June. There’s a lot that happens this month. June marks the beginning of Summer, we celebrate Father’s Day in June, and this year we’ll hold a primary election. The outcome of the primary election will determine which candidates for statewide, federal, state legislative, and some local political offices will appear on the ballot for the general election in November.
Did you know that the California primary election system has been changed a few times over the years? Here’s a brief history. Prior to 1996 a “closed primary system” governed the state’s primary elections. Under a closed primary system, only voters registered to a specific political party may cast a ballot of that political party.
In March of 1996 voters approved Proposition 198 which altered the closed primary system to an “open” or “blanket” primary system that allowed all registered voters to cast ballots for any candidate, regardless of political party affiliation and without declaring association with a political party. However, in June of 2000 the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in California Democratic Party, et. al, v. Jones that declared Proposition 198 unconstitutional stating the law violated a political party’s First Amendment right to associate.
Later, the state enacted Senate Bill 28 which took effect January 1, 2001, and implemented a “modified” closed primary system. The modified system allowed for “decline to state” or “non-partisan” voters to participate by providing the option to cast a non-partisan ballot, or unless requested a ballot of a specific political party.
The primary system would be changed once again on June 8, 2010, to our current system when voters approved Proposition 14, which replaced the modified system with a “top-two” open system. Under the top-two system only the top two candidates in the primary who received the highest and second highest votes for statewide, federal, and state legislative political offices advance to the general election ballot, regardless of political affiliation.
So why the history lesson? Well, first we should always know how a system works before we engage in it and secondly, because elections have consequences. Consequences that can directly and indirectly impact agriculture. And whether under a closed, open, modified, or top-two systems, something of consequence happened to agriculture in those elections. Will that happen again? I guess we’ll see in November.