Constitutional amendment; top two open primary election (first reference). (HJ541)

Introduced By

Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate


Constitutional amendment (first resolution); top two open primary election. Provides for a top two open primary election to be conducted to select the candidates for the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General, of the House of Delegates or the Senate of Virginia, and of the United States House of Representatives or Senate. All candidates for the particular office, regardless of the candidate's political party affiliation, appear on a single ballot, and the two candidates receiving the highest and next highest number of votes for that office, regardless of their political party affiliation, are the candidates at the ensuing general election for that office. Every qualified voter may vote for any candidate for an office at a top two open primary election, regardless of the political party affiliation of the candidate or the voter. The amendment further provides that the political parties have the right to endorse, support, or oppose any candidate at a top two open primary election or the ensuing general election, regardless of the political party affiliation of the candidate, but that the parties do not have the right to nominate candidates for an office at the top two open primary election or to have their preferred candidates participate in the general election if such candidates do not receive the highest or next highest number of votes at the top two open primary election for that office. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


09/15/2016Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/17 17100294D
09/15/2016Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
01/10/2017Assigned P & E sub: Constitutional
01/30/2017Subcommittee recommends laying on the table (4-Y 3-N)
02/08/2017Left in Privileges and Elections


Juniper Harrison writes:

I'd like this, as long as the below partisan nonsense can also be avoided.
"Many political analysts also see blanket nonpartisan primaries as a way to moderate elections, by allowing independents to bring the conversation back to the middle and away from the party extremities that often emerge in partisan primaries.
"In addition, blanket primaries are viewed as allowing for more choices, since independents or third party candidates can run in this system as opposed to being excluded from the first wave of elections, which often happens in many states like New York.
"Despite these objectives, in Louisiana, this has rarely been the result because the parties have otherwise ‘rigged’ the rules in their favor.
"A survey of election results in Louisiana, conducted in 2004, reveals that Louisiana’s election laws may actually hinder both goals of moderation and expanding choice, whereas nonpartisan primaries in states like California have had a positive effect on moderation.
"A large part of Lousiana’s troubles could be that, in most cases, runoffs do not even occur, because the majority party’s candidate in heavily gerrymandered districts receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the low-turnout primary, before ‘regular’ voters come out to the polls.
For example, in Louisiana’s congressional elections in 1998, 5 of the 7 U.S. House seats faced no opposition at all, with a sixth election failing to go past the first round.
"This pattern occurred throughout the 1990s: three seats uncontested in 1996, no general elections at all in 1994, and 6 of 7 in 1992 also won by landslides, clearly reducing voter choice."