August 2, 2021 

Contact: Dan Kapelovitz
(323) 839-6227

Statement of Green governor candidate Dan Kapelovitz:
Excluding Green Voice Shortchanges Recall Debate About State’s “Democracy Deficit”

Wednesday’s Governor debate hosted by Fox TV Los Angeles features five Republican candidates, but no others.  For this reason, Californians will not hear solutions to one of the main reasons so many people signed the recall petition – California’s “Democracy Deficit” – because so many voters feel underrepresented under California’s failed experiment with Top Two elections, which limit voter voice and choice.

Top Two limits voter choice to only two general-election candidates – and makes it extremely hard for minor-party candidates like the Greens to even qualify for the primary election ballot.  As a result, Governor Newsom never faced a serious progressive challenger in 2018.  If Newsom had – especially under a ranked-choice vote featuring multiple general election candidates – that might have compelled him to have supported an immediate ban on fracking (instead of delaying it for year), as well as supporting a mandated 2,500-foot setback between dangerous oil and gas extraction and neighborhoods — top priorities for California’s environmental-justice communities.

I plan on voting “no” on Question #1 in the recall election, “whether the current Governor should be recalled.”  At the same time, a vote for my Green candidacy in Question #2 – the replacement candidate vote – can be a transformational vote for more choice and more voice for Californians, via ranked-choice voting and proportional representation elections.  These critically needed reforms would lead to a viable multi-party system for California, giving more people in our state a seat at the table of our democracy

Republicans argue that California suffers from being a “one-party” state.  California is a one-party state because, under our duopoly electoral system, the only alternative to Democrats are Republicans, so Democratic support is overstated.  With more electable options under elections by proportional representation, voters would have more choice and be represented by a range of parties and viewpoints.  But none of these perspectives will be heard in Tuesday’s debate, because it doesn’t include a Green voice.

One of the great ironies of Question #2 – the candidate replacement vote – is that votes will likely be split among multiple well-known Republican candidates. This could lead to a plurality winner with less than a majority of the vote, perhaps as low at 30%, or even less.   

Under ranked-choice voting, voters can rank the candidates.  If a candidate receives more than half of the first choices in races for a single seat office like governor, that candidate wins.  If there is no majority winner, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who ranked that candidate as “number 1” will have their votes count for their next choice.  This process continues until there’s a majority winner.

Ranked-choice voting is used to elect state and federal office in Maine and Alaska, and in over 20 U.S. cities, and recently was successfully used  to elect the Mayor of New York.  California’s top-two elections system was placed on the June 2010 ballot by the state legislature without any analysis or public hearings, as part of a February 3, 2009, 2 a.m. state budget deal.  Given this staggering lack of due diligence about something so important as how we structure our democracy, the Green Party has called upon the state legislature to convene “a public inquiry process, to include public hearings around the state, to review California’s top two experiment and alternatives to it – including proportional representation for the state legislature and ranked-choice voting for single-seat, statewide office.”

Given our state’s great diversity, the “democracy deficit” issue should be addressed at Tuesday’s debate.  But it won’t be if the Green Party and my campaign are excluded.

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