Blanket Primary

| | Comments (0)
In the last few years, the political parties in the state of Washington have successfully overturned the so-called "blanket primary," which allows voters to vote across party lines on the primary.

The basic idea is simple: the primary exists for the purpose of choosing the party's candidate for the general election. If you choose to not affiliate with a party, then why should you get to help the party choose their candidate?

It's a compromise. The parties -- private organizations -- open up the process to the public, and in return, ask that the voters who choose to participate at least affiliate themselves with the party for the purposes of the primary.

And this is not even new to Washington: the caucus system here has always worked that way. If you caucus with one party, you can't caucus with another party. It's the exact same idea.

So fast forward to this year. The mail-in ballots require you to choose a party if you are to vote in partisan races. A whopping 22% in a random sample in Snohomish County failed to choose a party. Other counties had numbers from 5 to 14 percent. (Oddly, Snohomish County was one of the few counties -- I think King was the only other -- to have a primary last year, under these new rules; but I suppose turnout was so low, that most of the people who voted are more involved, and therefore better understand the issues involved, and were less likely to make mistakes or throw a fit.)

From that number alone, it's hard to tell if these were protests against the new blanket system, or mistakes, or merely choosing to not affiliate with a party.

Sam Reed, the Secretary of State, replied: "Any of these numbers are too high, when you consider a governor's race was decided by a fraction of a percent, the fact that these votes aren't going to be counted, I think is something that is alarming."

But it is perfectly reasonable to think that five or more percent of a population simply doesn't want to help either party select its candidates. But Sam doesn't understand that. By comparing this to the general election, he shows he has no understanding of what a primary actually is for. The partisan primary is not for everyone. It is only for you if you want to help one of the parties select its candidates. If you do not want to do that, you should not participate, because that is the only reason to participate. By definition.

Frankly, I think Sam Reed is just grasping at straws. You see, he is a Republican, but many Republicans -- for reasons just like this -- don't like him. He benefitted from the blanket primary because he got a lot of crossover votes from Democrats. That's not going to happen when he runs the next time. And that is as good a reason to be against the blanket primary as any.

One more thing about this stuff: a lot of people are complaining that their ballot should still count; that it shouldn't be discounted just because they made an "honest mistake." No, that's not how it works. If you can't follow simple and clear directions, your ballot should not count. That said, I wouldn't mind a rule that said if a ballot contained partisan votes only for one party, then that should have the same effect as having explicitly chosen that party. I don't see why that would be a problem. But it's too late now to change that rule.

The good news is that the partisan primary is -- in most of the state -- meaningless, as there's few seriously contested races. The only meaningful votes for most of the state are local ballot initiatives, and Supreme Court and other local judicial races, all of which are nonpartisan. So hopefully all this confusion and animosity won't have a deleterious effect, and will work itself out for the next time around, when it will matter a lot more.

Leave a comment

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by pudge published on September 12, 2006 10:40 PM.

New iTunes Is Lame was the previous entry in this site.

Crazy Ad is the next entry in this site.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.