I don’t think I’ve been equivocal in my disagreement with the Top Two primary that Washington adopted, and which recently was not thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court. People picked this primary because they like they idea of voting for whatever candidate they choose, regardless of the party of the candidate. I’m working on a pocast discussing this opposition to party affiliation, but that’s not what this is about. I’ve come up with a couple of suggestions that I think would improve the system and might well do away with the opposition the major parties have with the system.
The Top Two system states that candidates can describe themselves however they like within the character limit, so long as it isn’t obscene and doesn’t designate them as the nominee of their party, and that the top two vote-getters for each position will appear on the general election ballot. Thus, you could end up with two candidates showing up on the general election ballot designated as Democrats, both of which are Republicans.
My proposal for change would be to not only allow candidates to designate themselves as party nominees, but to restrict that label to those nominated by their parties, and to allow voters to choose to vote for all the endorsed candidates and positions of their parties (excepting those they vote specifically). The first part of the proposal would simply allow the parties to make the product of their nominating process known to the voter on the ballot. It wouldn’t require voters to vote for them in any way, but would be useful to those who want to make sure that the Republican or Democrat they’re voting for are actually Republicans or Democrats. The second part would allow people who trust their parties choices, to a greater or lesser degree, and wish to vote without necessarily researching every candidate or question on their ballot.
This proposal wouldn’t eliminate any voter choices, nor would it contradict the voters stated preference for the top two vote getters. You could still have two Republicans designated as Democrats on the general election ballot, and you could still guarantee that Green Party or Libertarian Party candidates will never make it onto the general election ballot. It would simply provide information to voters about what the party organizations had to say about who represented their party, and would allow them to endorse those positions more easily if they choose to do so.
Secretary of State Sam Reed has indicated that he will not allow information about party nominee status because the Supremes said that the First Amendment didn’t give parties the privilege of making their nomination status known on the ballot. This is an empty argument. There are lots of things not specifically guaranteed in the First Amendment, including the position of the Secretary of State of Washington, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed. And the First Amendment does guarantee a right to free association, which means that groups do have a right to choose who does and doesn’t belong to the group. I fail to see what is harmed by making the choices of the parties known, unless one has a phobia about the parties entirely.
Anybody see any problems with this idea? Do you think it would limit your choices in any way?