[EM] Dave: Primaries, runoffs

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Sun Jan 5 09:52:01 PST 2003

Dave said:
> How does a party get its millions of members together for such a
> convention to nominate a candidate for governor in NY or CA? Once
> together, how do the members manage to accomplish anything useful?

then Mike said:
> You're missing the point, Dave: How they get their people together, and
> how they accomplish anything useful when they're together--those are
> their problems, not the problem of government, not a problem that the
> public should spend its much money on.

I recall that the Reform Party has experimented with voting by mail in
privately run primaries.

Also, parties often like to preserve "purity" in primaries.  Witness the
way Republicans recoiled in horror when registered independents and
Democrats campaigned for John McCain in 2000.  (Oh no!  Independent
thinkers who don't like Al Gore are joining forces with us!  Help!)  So,
parties might consider conducting primaries with volunteers who go to core
constituencies, and only core constituencies.  Democrats could send
volunteers with ballots to union meetings and Hollywood.  Republicans
could send volunteers with ballots to NRA meetings and Enron executives.

If the parties don't like to do it themselves, then they can use the
public primaries, but they must allow anybody who shows up to vote in
their primaries.  After all, if it's public then it's public.  If it's
private then it's private.  (Of course, one could reasonably stipulate
that voters in public primaries only get to vote in one party's contests,
just as parents can't send their kids to one public high school for math
class and another for history class.)

One could justify the expense by observing that some places hold local a
few local elections during the primaries, and perhaps decide ballot
initiatives.  The polls were going to be open that day, with or without
partisan primaries.


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