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Primary Methods

An interesting thing is going on in Washington State right now. Due to court orders invalidating the system they have used in the past, they are redesigning the process used to pick candidates for various state elections.

Third option pitched for new state primary system
(David Ammons, Associated Press on Seattle PI)

The latter approach, strongly backed by Secretary of State Sam Reed, has been dubbed the “Top Two” plan, or a modified blanket primary. It would allow the top two vote-getters for each office to advance to the November runoff.

I really like this system. Basically, anybody of any party (or no party) who meets a minimum criterea that is the same for everybody appears on an initial primary ballot. Then the top two vote getters (and only the top two) appear in the general election, which effectively becomes a run off. The top two could be of the same party, or of different parties. Doesn’t matter. Some see this as a downside, I see it as a positive. It makes the process completely independant of the parties. It takes them away from the priveledged position they have occupied, and puts them back into the position of being private organizations that happen to push candidates, rather than semi-official governmentally recognized units. All the better.

Now, it still isn’t as good as a proper preferencial voting system whereby when people vote they don’t just pick one person, but instead rank all the candidates in order by preference, and then sequential runoffs are held automatically knocking off one candidate at a time until the winner is choosen… That would give much better results, but is typically considered too complicated for the average voter and will never happen.

The kind of setup being proposed in Washington (and already used in some places I believe) is the next best thing. I hope it happens!

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