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Senate Elections Chair Norma Torres: No Comment on 3rd Party Ballot Access Problems

By on February 19, 2014
Senator Norma Torres

State Senator Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who chairs the Senate Elections Committee, refuses to address the ballot access problems facing third party candidates this election.

Under new election qualification rules, it would take the Green Party of California more than 16 years to raise enough money to pay the filing fee for all of its candidates in the June primary.

A spokesman for Torres said the state Senator had no comment on the issue.

Signature Threshold: From 150 to 10,000

Last week, first brought you the story of how new ballot qualification rules under the Top Two primary are excluding third party candidates from the June 2014 ballot.

Under the old system, statewide candidates could submit 150 signatures from registered party members in-lieu of a filing fee. Now, the signature-in lieu threshold for small parties has jumped from 150 party members to 10,000 signatures from all voters, a 66-fold increase.

Minor party candidates, who couldn’t afford the filing fee, now are unable to pursue the signature in-lieu route, leading to fewer candidates and, in turn, fewer choices for voters.

“I had planned to run for Secretary of State, but I did not because I could not afford the filing fee,” C. T. Weber, a member of the Peace and Freedom Party told “As a result of Top Two and its implementing legislation, I could no longer get the signatures in lieu of filing fees.”

Green Party Welcomes Legislative Solution

Approved by voters four years ago, Proposition 14 ditched the traditional party primary system, where the winner of each party primary appears on the general election ballot. Under Top Two, all candidates appear on a single primary ballot. Only the top two vote-getters advance to the November general election, regardless of party.

According to the official ballot title and summary, Proposition 14 was written to “encourage increased participation in elections” and “give voters increased options in the primary.” The measure has had the opposite effect, making it harder and more expensive for minor party candidates to qualify for the primary election ballot. That’s because, under the new system, minor party candidates must collect a substantially higher number of signatures or pay a sizable filing fee.

Green party of ca logoMichael Feinstein, a spokesperson for the Green Party of California, said the party would welcome legislation to address the ballot access problems.

“The Green Party would warmly welcome any bill addressing the relationship under the Top Two between fair ballot access, high filing fees and signatures-in-lieu thresholds,” Feinstein said.  “At this point, we are less concerned with the initial contents, as simply getting something introduced by Friday, so that needed dialogue can occur.”

Friday, February 21 is the last day for bills to be introduced.

For the June 2014 primary, it will cost parties $235,000 to field a candidate for every state and federal office. Since 1992, small parties have averaged a combined 133 candidates on the ballot in California. In 2012, they cumulatively only ran 21 candidates, the lowest minor party total since 1966 – when no minor parties were on the ballot.



About John Hrabe

John Hrabe spends his time traveling the world as a freelance journalist. When he isn’t on an international flight, John writes about state and national politics for,, Huffington Post and the editorial pages of the Orange County Register. John’s most recent high-profile investigation uncovered the questionable labor practices of Goodwill Industries, the nonprofit organization famous for its secondhand clothing stores.


  1. Rodolfo de Hoyos

    February 19, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Hello Norma, I am the political consultant to Certified Democratic Candidate Ronald J. O’Donnell JD. Mr. O’Donnell is running for Senate seat District 23. I would like your support for Mr. O’Donnell. Please contact me at 714-240-0635 or 888-255-9999 to discuss how we can together help him win the seat.

    Thank you for your help and support.


    Rodolfo de Hoyos
    Political Consultant.

  2. Pingback: Padilla, Yee looking at 3rd party ballot access issues |

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