In the world of multi-partisan politics it is rare to have two political parties agree on anything. We not only have two, but three political parties filing briefs in a state of Washington case going before the Supreme Court. (HT: Ballot Access News)
While this case is limited to a blanket primary system it may in fact have consequences for all primary systems. A blanket primary system is how many localities elect school board members or mayors. After the primary the top two candidates move on to the general. What is unique about Washington’s blanket primary is it tries to combine an open partisan primary into a partisan blanket primary.
While the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties all filed briefs against the state of Washington I will rely on the Libertarian brief. One major consequence of the partisan blanket primary is it takes the nomination process away from parties and gives it to the State.
In fact, I-872 omitted a crucial element of the“nonpartisan blanket primary” description, i.e., “nomination by established parties or voter-petition requirements for independent candidates.” Far from eliminating the previous state regulation of the party nominating process, as argued by Petitioner State of Washington (hereinafter“Washington”)12, I-872 delivers a fatal blow to the Respondent Libertarian Party of Washington State.
If the Supreme Court upholds this Washington law political parties will cease to exist in all but name. A particular party will lose control of choosing who will represent them under their party banner. A candidate could choose to run as a Green, Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian and the respective political parties would have no say.
It is the free association clause that all three political parties use to argue against the partisan blanket primary. It seems to me there may be little difference in what we (Wisconsinites) call the open primary an the blanket partisan primary on this issue. A particular primary (at least Republican and Democrat) is open without restriction to all voters in the state. What this means in practice is you may very well have voters who are not in a particular party or have any interest in its growth determining who will head the ticket.
Another huge consequence of a partisan blanket primary is third parties will most likely never make it to the general election.
“top two” primary scheme eliminates all meaningful opportunities for a Libertarian Party candidate,or any other third party or independent candidate, to reachthe general election ballot. The disadvantages of third partyand independent candidates in certain election systems arewell known.
In some states these top two would be a Democrat and a Republican, but in others it may be two Democrats or two Republicans. This could in many parts of the country institutionalize one party rule. Clearly, as the Libertarian brief outlines, this is two steps back for democracy.
I believe we would best be served by getting rid of the partisan primary system. Let the political parties themselves decide who best represents their interests. If they want to have a caucus, limit it to politicians, or even send out ballots, so be it. These are the concerns of private organizations and their members. As someone writing an the “Mississippi open primary” (different than the Wisconsin one) said the blanket primary is similar to letting Methodists and agnostics pick the pastor of the Baptist church. Much of this criticism could easily be extended to Wisconsin’s open primary system.
What should be the government’s concern is a general elections done in the fairest way possible. A general election that gives the voters a breadth of choice with a multitude of political parties and independents. What this will do is change our political system from a intra multi-party system to an inter multi-political party system. Intra based system are heavily reliant on primaries in which the fight for the soul of the party is fought. With Inter based systems (like in Europe) those fights are done in public, at the ballot box, and in the general election through a multitude of political parties.
It is a given that an inter multi-political party system must be IRV based. It is morally reprehensible that in our current system if you do not vote for one of the top two candidates, your vote is thrown out. Instant Runoff Voting spoils no vote and wastes none vote unless the voter chooses to.