August 26th, 2004

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Primaries

I got my absentee ballot for the September primary. I'm debating on whether or not to vote in it.

We no longer have an open primary. I think that's sad. However, I can see the political parties' point that they should have the right to put up whoever they want under their banner. An open primary allows Republicans to select who is the standard bearer for the Democrats, and vice versa. So for that reason I don't like the blanket primary.

On the other hand, I also don't like the idea that I have to state my party affiliation (no matter how tenuous it might be at any given time) in order to vote. It's my right as a citizen to vote for whomever I damn well please. So for that reason I don't like the new system either.

The governor vetoed the top 2 primary that the legislature passed. It would have established a system similar to Louisiana's. The top to vote-getters in the primary move on to the general election regardless of party. I like that sort of system. Forces the parties to really get behind someone. If they aren't behind someone in their own party, challengers within the party can split the vote, and you end up losing all your candidates in the primary. It would have put 2 Democrats on the general election ballot in '96 when Ellen Craswell's extreme right-wing candidacy for governor caused her to run third in the primary as Republicans abandoned her. And in the 80s, two Democrats came in 1 and 2 in the primary, but third place finisher John Spellman finished first in the general election. But what bothers me about this system the most is that third party candidates will almost never get to the general election.

We could go to a non-partisan ballot at the same time as the previous proposal, but I think parties would still operate in the background.

So my proposal is to get out of the primary business altogether. Screw it. I know primaries were instituted to eliminate smokey back room dealing so that those not favored by the party elite could have a chance. It has some merit. But I'd rather we just let them nominate who they want however they want. If voters don't like smokey back room deals, they can form their own party with better rules, and if enough agree with their methods, they'll get more votes and win in the general elections.

Plus, it would save the states and counties a non-negligable amount of money they currently spend on running primary elections.