[EM] Re: parties working to throw out top-two primary in Washington State

Russ Paielli 6049awj02 at sneakemail.com
Mon May 2 20:53:16 PDT 2005

James Green-Armytage jarmyta-at-antioch-college.edu |EMlist| wrote:
> Hi Russ,
> 	I don't know the details of the Washington State situation, so please
> correct me if I've misunderstood the new rule.
> 	As far as I can tell, the changes that we are talking about essentially
> create a two round runoff instead of a plurality election... except that
> the second round is mandatory even if a candidate receives a majority in
> the first round.

I agree.

> 	I don't really buy the argument that third parties are excluded by this
> system. If they want to win, they need to compete with the Dems and Reps
> in the primary. If they can get the votes there, they have a real chance
> of being elected in the general election. Compare that to a plurality
> system where even popular third party candidates have a very hard time
> convincing voters that they should be considered viable and hence that
> they should be voted for in the general election. Winning a spot in the
> runoff guarantees that they will be given a fair shot at the office.
> 	I also don't buy the 'unconstitutionally preventing parties from choosing
> their own candidates' argument. That has more to do with regulating the
> use of party names on ballots than it has to do with the voting system
> itself. Basically, I think that in a two round runoff system, the parties
> should be free to hold their own primaries before the first round. Then,
> party members can commit to vote in the first round for whoever wins their
> primary.

I agree again. Hey, we're on a roll here. The key issue, of course, is 
whether or not the parties will be allowed to hold their own private 
primaries before the so-called "primary," which is really the first 
round of the two-round general election. If they are allowed that, then 
the system is at least reasonably fair, but then the second round will 
strongly tend to exclude third parties (for the same reason that third 
parties are uncompetitive now).

On the other hand, if the private primaries are *not* allowed, then 
chaos will ensue. In that case, each party's chances will depend heavily 
on how many candidates happen to run under their banner. If I were a 
shady operator, I would recruit and/or support candidates for the party 
I oppose just to split their vote. (Remember the Republicans who 
provided financial support for Nader last time around? No, he wasn't a 
Democrat, but he threatened to take votes from them.)


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