Friday, March 11, 2011

Idaho Judge De-Democratizes Primary Election System


Dan Popkey: Idaho GOP eyes primary election solution - The conservative wing’s court victory brings factions to the table to maintain the party’s dominance. (Idaho Statesman) Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, and Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise, are briefing a closed-door Senate GOP caucus Thursday. McKenzie says the issue of how to treat independents is central. “That ‘fine detail’ is a significant one when more Idahoans identify themselves as ‘independent’ than ‘Republican,’” said McKenzie.

Also see Harry Kresky's oped Democracy and the Institutions of Democracy:
The primaries in both parties have been captured by a small number of hard core party activists and ideologically driven elements. In the Democratic Party, the public service unions dominate; in the Republican Party it is social conservatives. Turnout in some states is as low as 10 percent of party members. Given the growing number of independents, the percentage, measured against the total electorate is significantly lower. In California some 3.5 million voters are not members of a political party. In New York, the number is 2.4 million. In response to this situation, the voters of California recently passed, by referendum, a law that abolished party primaries, replacing them with a first round in which all candidates are on an equal footing and all voters can participate. The top two go on to the general election. In New York and other closed primary states, nonaffiliated voters are barred from the primary where the candidates on the general ballot are chosen. And, like in the pre-civil rights movement south, in areas were one party dominates, the outcome of the primary determines who is elected.

Our elected officials are, therefore, often the most partisan elements in each party and they bring their partisanship into the halls of Congress and state legislatures. There is a growing democracy movement in America that is addressing this political and policy impasse. In doing so, they are challenging some of the institutions of democracy, in particular the parties, and the primary system that 100 years ago was a democratic reform, but now is a barrier to the exercise of democracy.

1 comment:

richardwinger said...

It is not true that California places all candidates on the same footing in the first round. Prop. 14 forbids any candidate from calling himself or herself "independent" on the ballot. It also forbids registered members of unqualified parties from having their party label on the ballot.