Political experts gathered Friday at the University of California, Berkeley to examine why the top-two primary system has failed to generate more voter interest.
The system was approved by voters in 2010, and places everyone who would race in the same primary. The top two vote getters of any party advancing to the general election in November.
It was expected the system would energize voters in primary elections and would increase competition and diminish polarization.
"And it's not happening, they're not participating in the primaries," said Stanford professor Bruce Cain, who was one of the experts at Friday's meeting. "They're waiting until the November election, but the point is this isn't going to work if they don't participate in the first round."
In the Bay Area, the battle for California's 17th Congressional District appears to be the only local race garnering any attention for the upcoming primary elections.
Incumbent Mike Honda faces fellow Democrat and former Obama administration official Ro Khanna in the Bay Area's only competitive congressional primary.
Khanna has outpaced Honda in the money race. Honda's campaign said the real battle will be in November.
Republican challenger Vanila Singh's campaign manager said she's running aggressively in the heavily Democratic district, but won't participate in next month's televised debate.
"If you go onto her Facebook page you'll see she's doing three or four events out in the public every day," said Matt Shupe, Singh's campaign manager.