Proposition 14 was part of a State Senate compromise to pass a budget with tax increases in February 2009. Senator Abel Maldonado was the originator of this part of the budget compromise. This constitutional amendment passed in the legislature with just the number of votes needed to meet the 2/3 requirement in each house. It is on the June 2010 ballot, because constitutional amendments require majority approval by voters.
Prior Attempts at an Open Primary
In 1996 California’s voters passed Proposition 198, which established an open primary for federal and state elections that was similar in some respects to what is proposed by Proposition 14. However, one important difference under Proposition 198 was that the candidate with the most votes in each party advanced to the general election, rather than the top two vote-getters irrespective of party as is the case under Proposition 14. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Proposition 198 in 2000, ruling that it infringed on the association rights of political parties by allowing people who were not party members to help select party nominees.
The 2000 court opinion  suggested the constitutional objection would not apply to an open primary system that did not select party nominees, such as a system where the top two vote getters in the primary would move on to the general election. An initiative proposing a top-two open primary was brought before California voters as Proposition 62 in 2004, along with a competing measure offered by the legislature, Proposition 60, that reaffirmed the existing partisan primary system. Prop 60 passed (yes-68%), and Prop 62 failed (no-54%).
In 2004, voters in Washington State adopted a “top-two voter getter” primary to replace a longstanding open primary system similar what had been proposed by Proposition 198. Washington’s new primary system was upheld in a 2008 decision  of the U.S. Supreme Court. Proposition 14 is very similar to Washington’s current primary system.
Potential Impact of Proposition 14
In a study of “Open Primaries ” published in February 2010, the Public Policy Institute of California reviewed the history of open primary voting in California under Proposition 198, as well as research conducted by other authors regarding open primary voting in other states. Overall, PPIC concluded that the Proposition 14 open primary “would probably have a noticeable but modest effect on voting and representation in California….Moderates might benefit, but only slightly more often than under the current system.”
Implementation of Proposition 14
The legislature has already passed SB6  to implement various provisions of Proposition 14, provided it is approved by voters. This implementing legislation would almost certainly require significant technical and operational changes impacting voting systems, election management systems, ballot creation, poll worker training, and voter education. At best, such changes could result in substantial financial challenges and time limitation issues. In the worst case, it may be necessary for certain jurisdictions to purchase new voting systems, a process which is lengthy and expensive. For example, based on tests using actual 2006 primary data, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder believes that it would be necessary for Los Angeles County to replace its existing voting system, the InkaVote vote recorder. It is not known if the legislature will reconsider any of the specific provisions of SB6 to minimize potential adverse impacts.
Potential Conflict with Proposition 15
There is potential conflict between Proposition 14 and certain provisions of Proposition 15, the Fair Elections Act, which would provide voluntary public financing of candidates for the office of California Secretary of State. Proposition 15 is written assuming the continuation of the existing electoral system for that office, including partisan primaries. If both measures pass, conflicting provisions of the two measures would have to be reconciled through additional legislation, judicial action, or a future ballot measure.
Lawsuit over Ballot Title & Summary
Opponents of Proposition 14 filed a legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s Ballot Label and Title & Summary, asserting that initial wording such as “greater voter participation” and “reform” was not neutral. The court amended this wording, as well as the Fiscal Impact written by the Legislative Analyst’s Office. However, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s rewriting of the Fiscal Impact, and largely reversed the rewriting of the Ballot Label and Title & Summary, allowing a statement that the measure “encourages increased participation,” but deleting a statement that the measure “Reforms the primary election process.”
- Prop 14 gives voters a greater choice of candidates in primary elections, and gives independent voters an equal voice in these elections.
- Prop 14 would help elect representatives who are less partisan and more practical.
- Prop 14 would lessen the influence of the major parties, which are now under the control of special interests.
- Legislation implementing this proposition requires that the California Secretary of State’s website publicly report each candidate’s registered party for the preceding ten years.
- According to the Legislative Analyst, the overall change in the costs to administer elections would probably not be significant.
- Prop 14 reduces voter choice in the general election to only two candidates for each office, possibly both from the same party.
- It would help elect representatives who are more practical and open to compromise, and thus more likely to approve tax increases and unreasonable budgets.
- Prop 14 undermines the role of political parties, which are essential to democracy.
- Candidates would not be required to report their political party preference on the primary or general election ballots, and thus could attempt to disguise themselves as independents when they are not.
- Under Proposition 14, elections will cost more money to administer at a time when local governments are cutting budgets.
YES on 14—Californians for an Open Primary • www.yeson14openprimary.com 
The “YES on 14” campaign has received a total of about $3.9 million from individuals, organizations, and businesses, with the largest contribution of $1.75 million coming from Governor Schwarzenegger’s campaign committee. (from Cal-Access postings as of 5/7/2010)
Supporters of Prop 14 include: (Signers of official arguments are in bold.)
• California Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley Leadership Group
• California Business Roundtable, California Alliance for Jobs
• California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems
• California Forward, Bay Area Council – advocates for government reform
• Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
• Tom Campbell, candidate for U.S. Senator
• State Senator Abel Maldonado
• Steve Westly, former State Controller
• Bruce McPherson, former California Secretary of State
• Lee Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff
Financial Contributions for YES on Prop 14 include: (from Cal-Access postings as of 5/7/2010)
• Governor Schwarzenegger’s Dream Team Committee - $1.75 million
(News articles report these funds include $1 million from Jerry Perenchio, a billionaire media mogul.)
• Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix - $257,328
• California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems - $250,000
• California Chamber of Commerce - $415,000
• William E. Bloomfeld, Jr. (retired) – $100,000
• Eli Broad, founder of The Broad Foundations - $100,000
• California Association of Health Underwriters - $100,000
• Brian L. Harvey, president of Cypress Land Company – $100,000
• Hewlett Packard Company - $100,000
Protect Voter Choice • www.stoptoptwo.org 
The only contribution reported to a "NO" on Prop 14 campaign is $50,000 from Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced). (from Cal-Access postings as of 5/8/2010)
Opponents of Prop 14 include: (Signers of official arguments are in bold.)
• Free & Equal Elections Foundation – www.stoptoptwo.org 
• California Democratic Party, California Republican Party
• State organizations of the Green Party, Libertarian Party, & Peace and Freedom Party
• California State Firefighters’ Association
• California School Employees’ Association
• United Nurses Associations of California and Union of Health Care Professionals
• California Alliance of Retired Americans
• Californians for Electoral Reform
• Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
• ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California
• Ed Costantini, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, UC Davis
• Meg Whitman, candidate for Governor
• Ralph Nader; Wayne Root, 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate
• State Senator Loni Hancock, State Senator Mark Leno
• Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, candidate for U.S. Senator
• Mike Feinstein, Mayor of Santa Monica
YouTube video: Top Two Primary/Proposition 14 Debate , 18:34 minutes. Former Santa Monica Mayor Michael Feinstein (opponent) and Brandon Gesicki (supporter), held at the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee meeting, April 5th, 2010.
Reports on open primaries:
- “Open Primaries ,” Eric McGhee, Public Policy Institute of California, February 2010.
This report analyzes the potential impact of Proposition 14.
- "Open Primaries and Top Two Elections ," Molly Milligan, Center for Governmental Studies, 2010.
- “Primary Process Reform in California ,” T. Anthony Quinn and R. Michael Alvarez, California Forward, April 2010. This report argues in favor of a nonpartisan blanket primary like that in Prop 14, while giving lots of background information.
U.S. Supreme Court opinions on open primary systems:
- California Democratic Party v. Bill Jones, Secretary of State, (Docket No. 99-401, 530 US 567 ), June 26, 2000. This opinion struck down California’s open partisan primary system under Proposition 198 of 1996.
- Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, Opinion (Docket No. 06-713 ), March 18. 2008. This opinion upheld an open nonpartisan primary system in Washington very similar to Proposition 15.
News & Opinion:
- “Proposition 14: Campaign for open primaries rolls out of the gate ,” Kurtis Alexander, Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 8, 2010.
- “Opponents Not Rushing to Spend Against 'Top Two' Primary System ,” Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee, March 11, 2010.
- "Proposition 14: To Stop the Politicians, Vote Yes or No ," Peter Schrag, California Progress Report, April 30, 2010.
- “Top two primary election plan would shift battlefield ,” Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee, May 4, 2010.