Wide support for open primaries
Many angry and fairly vicious comments have been left in the Boland Discussion thread beating on Boland for supporting open primaries, as if it's a death blow to the Democratic party.
An editorial in the Bloomington Pantograph perhaps says it best:
Are you tired of having to publicly declare a party to participate in a primary election? If so, you are not alone.What are your thoughts on this proposal? Would open primaries be better for voters? Is there any reason to not go to such a system other than a handful of political types fearing a loss of control over the process?
At the same time many voters were complaining about their choice of candidates in the general election - "lesser of two evils" was an often-used phrase - advisory votes in 21 Illinois townships showed overwhelming support for an open primary in Illinois.
Perhaps there is a connection.
There were 84,697 votes in favor of open primaries and 18,393 against - a more than 4-to-1 margin.
The concept is simple and it is used in some form in almost half the states. A voter is given a ballot for each established party. The voter chooses in secret the party primary in which they will vote. That ballot is counted. The other ballots are not.
State Rep. Mike Boland, D-East Moline, introduced a bill in January that would make that change. However, House Bill 5280 was left languishing in the Rules Committee.
The measure should be resurrected and approved.
More is at stake than just a public declaration of party affiliation.
State law also prohibits people from voting in a party primary if they signed nomination petitions for candidates from another party or independents running for offices being voted on in that primary.
This isn't the first time the issue has come up, and, if voter dissatisfaction continues, it is unlikely to be the last.
There was a similar push for open primaries in 1978, coordinated by the Coalition for Political Honesty, but it fell flat.
Although the public supports the concept, political parties don't.
Party leaders raise fears of conspiracy and sabotage.
They claim hordes of voters from party "A" will take ballots for party "B" and vote for the weakest candidate, thereby assuring victory for the candidate from party "A" in the general election.
Neither party in Illinois has shown that much organizational skill or party loyalty in recent years.
Their bigger, unstated fear is probably a loss of power and influence if more people, instead of just the party faithful, participate in primary elections.
In fact, Boland doesn't think there is much chance of his legislation being approved. He thinks it will take a constitutional convention. That's a pity.
We should be doing more to encourage participation in the political process, not discourage it.
Tell us your thoughts.