More Interplay Between Jim and Me

<em>Jim Riley and I had another exchange at <a href=””>Ballot Access News</a>, a portion of which follows.  He is a strong advocate of a Louisiana-style “top two” (or “open primary”)[1], and we had been discussing the possibility of a state using the “top two” in the presidential election, which no state currently does.  We were talking about the role of the parties’ national conventions when he changed the subject somewhat.</em>

<strong>Jim</strong>:  I would eliminate public funding, and remove any purported right of those conventions to nominate candidates for State offices.

<strong>Steve</strong>:  I agree on the public funding, since it empowers government to take a citizen’s money by force and give it to a candidate whom that citizen does not support. I favor no limits on private contributions… and immediate disclosure on the Internet.

I assume you mean STATE conventions nominating for state offices. Among the few states that still use conventions, primaries are used in some circumstances and conventions in others. I sometimes think it was a mistake to replace conventions with party primaries, but primaries are here to stay, and the convention will continue to be a nominating option where the state approves it.

<em>[Jim comments that a state has no business financing the activities– such as primaries– of political parties, since they are private organizations.]</em>

<strong>Steve:</strong>:  In 1995, a federal appeals court said that, when the state requires parties to nominate by primary, the state must pay for those primaries (Republican Party v. Faulkner County, Arkansas). If a state stopped requiring and paying for primaries, the parties would be very unlikely to nominate by primary, because of the expense.  Then the voters would raise hell; so, as a practical matter, states will continue  mandating and funding party primaries.

In every state– except Washington– where a “top two” (or “open primary”) measure has been on the ballot for state and/or congressional offices, the voters have rejected it. Most recently, nearly two-thirds of Oregonians defeated that terrible idea.

I’d like to see some state try this: have one big election, with all the candidates on the same ballot, on the first Tuesday in November, and use <a href=””>instant runoff voting (IRV)</a>. Citizens would only have to vote once, and officials would always be elected with 50-plus percent of the vote (the parties, of course, would still be free to endorse candidates in advance of the election).


[1] All candidates, including independents, run in the same election.  The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, proceed to the runoff.

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One Comment on “More Interplay Between Jim and Me”

  1. Sara Says:

    Hey I know of a really cool website called the voting site . The sites mission is to evangelize the instant run off voting. Users can create there own instant run off elections and vote in other peoples instant run off elections. The site does a good job of showing how instant run off voting works.

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