Lawsuit filed to challenge new top-two primary system 

Six California voters, including two who want to be write-in candidates for Congress, sued the state in San Francisco Superior Court today in a bid to block the so-called "Top Two" primary election process approved by voters in June.

The new plan enacted by voters as Proposition 14 provides that only the top two vote-getters in a June primary election for statewide, legislative and congressional offices will appear on the ballot in the following November general election, even if both are from the same party.

The lawsuit takes aim at SB6, a law passed by the Legislature in February 2009 for the purpose of implementing Proposition 14 if that measure was approved by voters in June of this year, as in fact happened.

SB6 was passed as part of a budget deal in which former Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado, now lieutenant governor, cast the deciding vote for the 2009-2010 state budget.

The lawsuit claims SB6 violates the California Constitution because it bars the counting of write-in votes during general elections and allows only state-recognized parties to appear on the ballot.

One of the plaintiffs, Steve Chessin of Mountain View, said, "SB6 is a hastily and poorly written law that was the result of a political backroom deal to secure the tie-breaking vote to pass the 2009 state budget."

The lawsuit asks for a Superior Court hearing on Sept. 3 on the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction blocking the law.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who supported the measure, issued a statement saying, "It comes as no surprise that Sacramento special interests are trying to overturn the government reforms Californians overwhelmingly support."

He said a top-two primary would "break through Sacramento's dysfunction" and vowed to fight for it.

Maldonado said he expected the courts to uphold the law.

"Voters have spoken loud and clear," he said.

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