Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Partisans Don't Like Open Primaries - Independents Do

Voters are begging for a revival of the open primary system in Alaska. (And -- strangely -- Ballot Access News's Rich Winger parses the impact of this on candidates. Maybe Winger thinks voters don't exist?) Open primaries are important for independent voters across the ideological spectrum, and particularly to the progressive wing of the independent movement. As Jackie Sailt pointed out on Friday night in Harlem at Lenora Fulani's "Interview With a Black Independent", so-called Tea Party candidates won in closed-primary states.


Hankster readers might be interested in this language from the decision of U.S. District Judge  John C. Coughenour who recently upheld Top Two against a further challenge by Washington’s political parties.
h/t to Harry Kresky:

“The political parties also argue that I-872 [the Top Two initiative] has harmed them because some of their official nominees have not advanced past the primary election to the general election. (Dkt No. 257 at 11–14.) The Democratic Party complains, for example, that in one particular race its official nominee lost the primary election because “the Democratic Party was forced by the State’s implementation of the Top Two [system] to have three other ‘Democratic candidates’ on the [primary] ballot” alongside the Democratic Party’s chosen nominee. (Dkt. No. 257 at 13.) The argument misses the point: “Whether parties nominate their own candidates outside the state-run primary is simply irrelevant. In fact, parties may now nominate candidates by whatever mechanism they choose because I-872 repealed Washington’s prior regulations governing party nominations.” Wash. State Grange, 552 U.S. at 453. The primary ballot did not include “three other Democratic candidates.” It included four candidates who stated a preference for the Democratic Party, one of whom the Democratic Party officially endorsed. “The First Amendment does not give political parties a right to have their nominees designated as such on the ballot,” id. at 453 n.7, and the political parties are not entitled as a matter of law to have their nominated candidates appear on the general-election ballot. I-872 did not prevent the Democratic Party’s nominee from advancing to the general election; the voters did. The political parties may not admire Washington’s new election system in which their designated candidates do not always advance to the general election, but that disappointment does not raise constitutional concerns.”

And now for more news headlines:



OPEN PRIMARIES
  • Closed party primary would end under Gruenberg bill - OPEN SYSTEM: Top 2 vote getters would move on to general election. (By BECKY BOHRER, The Associated Press, Anchorage Daily News) Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, said that for years he has had people stop and "beg" him to revive an open-primary system, in which voters can choose any candidate for legislative or executive branch offices regardless of party affiliation.
  • Alaska Bill for a Top-Two Primary (Ballot Access News) [For Winger, it's all about the candidates -ed.]
  • State Senate elections may be settled in first round of balloting (By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times) Charness said he is affiliated with the "coffee party," a group formed to counter the conservative "tea party" organizations. The group is not recognized by the state, so he was stuck with the no-party label. Peace and Freedom party members Jan B. Tucker of Torrance and Carl Iannalfo of Littlerock, in the Antelope Valley, contend that the "chaos" caused by the new system prevented them from collecting enough signatures to get on the ballots in their respective districts.
    Bill would do away with closed party primary (By Becky Bohrer, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Juneau Empire) Gruenberg said the existing system has “put the nominating process for Republicans in the hands of a small group” and led to the nomination of less centrist, more conservative candidates. He cites as a glaring example of this the selection of Joe Miller as the GOP nominee over incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who then mounted an outsider write-in bid to win back her job.
  • What We Learned: Top 10 Political Lessons for 2011 (By Solomon Kleinsmith, WNYC/It's a Free Blog) IndependendentVoting.org does some great work in other areas, but their hypocrisy on this issue has been disturbing to many of us who watch developments in election law across the country. They should pull the wool from their eyes and see how much truely open primaries have helped their close ally (who they literally share an office with), the Independence Party of New York. If they do not, they will be seen as just another partisan group that will use their power to game the system to their advantage, rather than work to make it more open.
     
REDISTRICTING
OBAMA
  • Marist poll: Most voters say Obama will improve performance (Poughkeepsie Journal) "I think he's doing the best he can." A majority of independent voters — 55 percent — and even a plurality of Republican voters — 41 percent — think the president will make greater strides in his performance during the next two years than he has in the past two.
  • Obama improves standing vs '12 rivals (By: CNN Political Coverage Manager Steve Brusk, CNN Political Ticker) The poll indicates Obama leads the potential GOP challengers among independent voters, by 10 points over Romney, 5 over Huckabee, and 28 over Palin.
REPUBLICANS
NEW YORK
EDUCATION REFORM

9 comments:

richardwinger said...

My whole life has been spent working to increase choices for voters. It is not thoughtful for you to say what you did about me. And while you are at it, when are you going to accept my invitation to define the word "independent"?

The California measure that you constantly applaud takes away the freedom of the voter to vote for anyone he or she wishes in November. When are you going to say something about the fact that Prop. 14 says write-in votes can't count? Prop. 14 is telling the voter he or she can only vote for two candidates, and by eliminating write-ins, is a severe restriction on the right of voters. Yet you say nothing about this.

Randy Miller said...

Prop 14 also removes the poll tax for voters paying for an election in which they receive an abridged partisan ballot if they receive one at all contingent upon making some kind of token allegiance or maybe more to a party.

I think the prop 14 issue and many others in this country centers around consensus. The 6 parties opposed prop 14 and it still passed. What does that tell you? It tells me Californians are more interested in consensus than partisan identification. Is there a good reason to make a write-in provision available? Perhaps there is. But I'm not a Californian. That is for California to discuss and reach a consensus on and I hope they do. That's the unfortunate frequent theme of parties, we care about ideology X and to hell with the consensus of the people.

Independent means not dependent.

Randy Miller said...

...the political parties are not entitled as a matter of law to have their nominated candidates appear on the general-election ballot.

<<>>

Randy Miller said...

I-872 did not prevent the Democratic Party’s nominee from advancing to the general election; the voters did.

Randy Miller said...

Richard Winger: "Blanket primaries are not intrinsically unconstitutional, but they are unconstitutional as applied to any political party that doesn’t desire that kind of primary."

Randy Miller: "So if a party doesn't like a provision of any law or regulation, it is therefore intrinsicly unconstitutional?"

Judge Coughenour: "The political parties may not admire Washington’s new election system in which their designated candidates do not always advance to the general election, but that disappointment does not raise constitutional concerns."

Randy Miller: "Or legitimacy"

richardwinger said...

Hi Randy, I would love to talk to you on the phone. My phone number is 415-922-9779. Or my e-mail is richardwinger@yahoo.com.

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

I wonder why people are trying to spin Open Primaries and Top Two as being the same thing. I keep asking this... IndependentVoting.org wont answer, Nancy Hanks wont answer, Kresky wont answer... what is the deal?

Top Two and Open Primaries are two separate reforms. I disagree with Top Two, but with a stretch of my imagination I could see how others could disagree, but what I don't see is why people are lying about it being the same thing as open primaries.

Its not even a grey area kind of thing, its obviously a totally different thing... limiting who can make it past the primary has nothing to do with openness.

Steve Rankin said...

Randy Miller: The US Supreme Court struck down the state-mandated blanket primary in California Democratic Party v. Jones. Parties may have a voluntary blanket primary, as Alaska's Democrats and minor parties now do. AK's Republicans have a separate, semi-closed primary, in which independents are eligible to vote; the Dem//minor party ballot is available to ANY voter. 50%-plus of Alaskans are registered independents.

In 1995, the 8th circuit said that, when the state mandates that parties hold primaries, the parties cannot be required to pay for those primaries (Republican Party of Arkansas v. Faulkner County).

In 47 states, political parties are indeed empowered by the law to have their nominees on the general election ballot.

It continually amazes me that so many independent voters favor the "top two" monstrosity, which makes it nearly impossible for independent and small party candidates to get elected. The final choice in the "top two" is almost always one Democrat and one Republican, 2 Democrats, OR 2 Republicans.

Why should the voters be limited to just two choices in the final, deciding election?

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

This mirrors my thoughts exactly:

"It continually amazes me that so many independent voters favor the "top two" monstrosity, which makes it nearly impossible for independent and small party candidates to get elected. The final choice in the "top two" is almost always one Democrat and one Republican, 2 Democrats, OR 2 Republicans.

Why should the voters be limited to just two choices in the final, deciding election?"