Skip County Header
Alameda County, CA, acgov.org
ACGOV Quick Links
Goto ACGOV Search

Top-Two Open Primary Act

To learn about the Top Two Primary Act, please view the following presentation:

On June 8, 2010, California voters approved Proposition 14, which created the "Top-Two Open Primary Act".

Prior to the "Top-Two Open Primary Act", candidates running for partisan office appeared only on their own party's ballot. The top vote-getter from each qualified political party and any candidates who qualified using the independent nomination process would then move on to the general election.

Now, under the "Top-Two Open Primary Act", all candidates running, regardless of their party preference, will appear on a single combined ballot, and voters can vote for any candidate from any political party. The "Top-Two Open Primary Act" would not affect the election of President or County Central Committees, which are still party specific contests.

The "Top-Two Open Primary Act" requires that only the two candidates for voter-nominated offices who receive the highest and second-highest number of votes cast at the primary shall appear on the ballot as candidates at the ensuing general election.(EC8141.5)

The "Top-Two Primary Act" changes the way elections are conducted for all statewide offices including:

  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • United States Senator
  • Secretary of State
  • Controller
  • Insurance Commissioner
  • Board of Equalization
  • U.S. Representative
  • State Senator
  • State Assembly
  • State Treasurer
  • Attorney General

Non-partisan offices such as judges, schools, special districts, municipalities and the Superintendent of Public Instruction would remain open to all eligible voters.

Quick facts about the "Top-Two Primary Act"

What does this mean for the Voter?
It changes the way candidates are elected in a primary election.

How does this affect write-in candidates?

You may write in a qualified write-in candidate's name on the ballot in a Primary Election contest.

In the General Election, you may only write-in a qualified candidates name in a Party-Nominated contest. Write-in votes are not allowed in a voter-nominated general election.

3 Types of Candidate Contests

There are three types of candidate contests:

Party-Nominated
(formerly known as Partisan)
Party-nominated offices are contests in which the nominee is selected by the political party.
Voter-Nominated
Voter-Nominated offices are contests in which the nominee is selected by the voter.
Non-partisan
Non-partisan offices are ones in which no political party nominates a candidate.

The table below provides information for each candidate contest type regarding what offices fall into that type, who can vote in each type, what party information appears on the ballot and who advances to the general election.

Contests Offices Who Can Vote Party Appearance on Ballot Who Advances to the November General Election
Party-Nominated
  • U.S. President
  • County Central Committees
Only voters registered with the same party preference as the candidate.

(Except parties who allow non-partisans to cross-over and join their primary).
Candidates' party preferences ALWAYS appear on the ballot Presidential contest only, the top vote-getters in each party moves on to the general election.
Voter-Nominated
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Secretary of State
  • State Treasurer
  • State Controller
  • State Insurance Commissioner
  • State Board of Equalization
  • Attorney General
  • State Senator
  • State Assembly
  • U.S. Senator
  • U.S. Representative
All voters, regardless of party preference can vote for any candidate.

This replaces party ballots in primary elections with a single combined ballot listing all candidates
Candidates' party preferences ALWAYS appear on the ballot The top-two vote-getters, regardless of party preference, move on to the general election.
Non-partisan
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Superior Court Judges
  • County Offices
  • Municipal Offices
  • School Districts
  • Special Districts
All voters can vote for these candidates Candidates' party preferences NEVER appear on the ballot In majority vote contests, candidates that receive a majority of the votes win outright in the Primary.

If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, then the top-two vote-getters move on to the general election.

Alameda County sealAlameda County © 2012 • All Rights Reserved • Legal / DisclaimersAccessibility