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John Reuter's idea is a bad one. California used the system he advocated in 2012, and it resulted in disenfranchisement for members of California's minor parties, and it even disenfranchised Democrats in a district in which the Democrats are the largest party. The top-two system used in California in the 31st district caused two Republicans to be the only candidates on the November ballot, even though this district only voted 41% for Mitt Romney, and only 41% for the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. This happened because 4 strong Democrats split up the primary vote, and so the two Republicans running placed first and second. In November, 23.1% of the voters who cast a ballot left U.S. House blank, because they didn't want to vote for a Republican. This was the first congressional election in U.S. history when the largest party in a district went unrepresented.
No minor party candidates for Congress in California were permitted to run in the general election campaign season. This was the first time since 1966 in which California minor party members couldn't vote for someone from their own party.
An alternate solution would be to move the Idaho petition deadline for independent candidates from March to August. That way, if the Republicans nominate someone displeasing to large numbers of voters, an independent can still get in the race. We saw this work well in 2010 in states that have late deadlines for independent candidates. A moderate independent was elected Governor of Rhode Island. A moderate independent was almost elected Governor of Maine; he lost to the Republican by fewer than 10,000 votes. Lisa Murkowski won the general election on write-ins even though she had lost the Republican primary. Governor Crist of Florida ran for the US Senate as an independent and came close to winning; he came in second.
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