On June 8, 2010, California voters approved Proposition 14, which created the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act. Except for the offices of U.S. President and county central committee members, offices that used to be known as "partisan offices" (e.g., state constitutional offices, U.S. Congress, and state legislative offices) are now known as "voter-nominated" offices.
Prior to the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, candidates for a partisan office would have the political party they were registered with listed next to or below their names on the Primary and General Election ballots. A candidate who won a Primary Election was then considered to be the official nominee of his or her political party.
Now, under the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, candidates for voter-nominated offices can choose whether to list their party preference on the Primary and General Election ballots. Political parties can no longer formally nominate candidates for voter-nominated offices, so a candidate who finishes in the top two at the Primary Election and advances to the General Election is not the official nominee of any party for the office.
- Voter-Nominated Office Definition
- (a) “Voter-nominated office” means a congressional or state elective office for which a candidate may choose to have his or her party preference or lack of party preference indicated upon the ballot. A political party or party central committee shall not nominate a candidate at a state-conducted primary election for a voter-nominated office. The primary conducted for a voter-nominated office does not serve to determine the nominees of a political party but serves to compare the candidates for the general election to the candidates receiving the highest or second highest number of votes cast at the primary election. The following are voter-nominated offices:
(b) This section does not prohibit a political party or party central committee from endorsing, supporting, or opposing a candidate for an office listed in subdivision (a).
- Lieutenant Governor
- Secretary of State
- Attorney General
- Insurance Commissioner
- Member of the State Board of Equalization
- United States Senator
- Member of the United States House of Representatives
- State Senator
- Member of the Assembly