Blanket primaries a step toward reform
Whittier Daily News May 5, 2006 -- RECENTLY, I have been talking with people about the upcoming primary elections. I've been finding that some are just not interested in participating in California's June primary. A common thread in these conversations is a feeling that choices are limited. Regardless of the individual's partisanship and given that the legislative districts in our area are so heavily gerrymandered to favor one of the two major parties, some think they don't have meaningful choices in the upcoming primary.
Unfortunately, my guess is that this is a common perception and might be why many voters don't participate in primaries.
This lack of clear choices in many primary elections is partly due to our current set of gerrymandered districts. But it is mainly due to a different problem: the lack of open primaries in California.
California experimented with truly open primaries in 1998. That experiment occurred after voters approved Proposition 198, which ushered in the so-called "blanket primary." In this version of an open primary, no matter the voter's party registration, he or she could cast a ballot for any candidate running in the primary, regardless of the candidate's party label. Candidates receiving the most votes within each party then advanced to the general election.
This type of open primary was unusual, but was effective at providing voters with real choices and producing more interesting primary elections. ... more