December 5, 2006

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.

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.
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?

Tell us your thoughts.

21 Comments:

At 12/05/2006 6:48 PM, Blogger youngdem503 said...

This would have major impact on RICO Democratic party get out the vote effort through voter IDing on election day, but since this is coming from Boland it makes sense he'll do anything to take a shot at the party.

 
At 12/05/2006 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious. I can see why party types would oppose this. But why would it be a bad thing for voters?

Or would it be best for voters, and best for getting better candidates and thus better representitives in Springfield?

And part of me feels it's odd to bash Boland for taking a supposed shot at the party when I feel that as far as ideals and basic priciples of standing up for consumers, the concerns of the middle class, etc. Boland is a far better Dem than some others.

 
At 12/05/2006 9:37 PM, Anonymous Demoman said...

Perhaps in the days of Benedict Arnold it was considered okay to go against your county, but today things are different. If Boland doesn't want to be a Democrat he should quit the party and quit taking all the benefits it provides. The only reason Boland won last time is because local Democrat leaders such Gianulis, Jacobs, Malvik, Armstrong and Ahern bailed him out. For Boland to vote to git rid of the Rock Island County Democrat Party stinks as bad as the pig-plant in Barstow!

Down with Boland, up with the Democrat Party. And to think Boland took more than 1/2 million in special interest money funnled through Mike Madigan and the Democrat Party. We bail him out and Boland pees all over us!

A loyal Democrat needs to run against Boland in the upcoming primary. If someone good runs against Boland, Squish will lose as loyal Democrats will not soon forget his treason.

 
At 12/05/2006 10:11 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

You know, this is a good example of why so many comments end up in the trash. Can't you figure out how to write something straight without resorting to outright lies and distortions?

I mean, try it sometime. Seriously.

You can have your opinion, but to try to LIE and smear Boland by even suggesting that he voted to, as you put it, "git rid of the Rock Island County Democrat Party" is just slimy, as is the suggestion that he doesn't want to be a Democrat.

I realize you're probably just yanking chains here, but could you at least try to not be such a joke?

I'd like to publish your comments if they weren't filled with goofy lies and smears, and always against Boland and trying to promote Jacobs.

It's pretty sickening, really.

 
At 12/06/2006 12:17 AM, Anonymous supporter said...

If Boland doesn't support "OPEN PRIMARIES" why is he holding press conferences and extoling their virtue?

Anytime you allow a Republican to vote in a Democrat primary you are watering down the two-party politcal system that built our great county.

Democrats don't need Republicans determining who will carry Lane Evans's flag. That is the job of the memebers of the Democrat Party. That is the reason we hold general elections after the primary is to ensure we get our best candidate. And I am quite sure Republicans don't want Democrats determining who will win their primaries. Mischevious Democrats members would assuredly pick the weakest Republican to run against Mike Boland.

Boland's plan does nothing more than reduce the influence of labor and moves Illinois towards a wacky California system of governance. In addition, it empowers corporate elites as they are better prepared finacially and strategically to market messages to the masses.

Politcians would be encouraged to play to the cheers of the crowd rather than do the right thing, as is often the case with Boland today. It's good to have extrems on both ends of the political spectrume, but having no differences between the politcal parties encourages less and less political participation as people as less likely to believe in anything.

Boland is hurting our area and it is time for him to go.

 
At 12/06/2006 12:31 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Time for him to go? He just got re-elected. Isn't it a bit crude and rude to engage in such talk before he's even sworn in?

But thanks for the anti-open primary view and explanation.

 
At 12/06/2006 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO.

 
At 12/06/2006 10:12 AM, Anonymous Dr. Who said...

Every state has different rules when it comes to registration and party affiliation.

One side of the coin is Iowa, where you must declare your party affiliation in advance at registration, and then you are only allowed to vote in the primary of the party which you previously declared.

In one sense, Illinois primaries are pretty open already. On election day you are free to ask for whichever party's ballot you wish. Republicans can choose a Democratic ballot and vice versa without any restriction simply by requesting the ballot they wish on Election Day. The only catch is that in Illinois, the ballot you choose is a matter of public record, and that's how campaign workers I.D. Democrats and Republicans.

The advocates for "Open Primaries" in Illinois would simply like to make it so voter’s choice of ballot in the primary is no longer a matter of public record. A potential voter would still have to choose a Democratic or Republican ballot just the same as they do today, however their choice would no longer be recorded and be a part of the public record available to any political committee.

Open primaries are no real threat to either party's existence. Political partyies would operate just the same as they do today, but they might have to do a little more work to ID their likely supporters.

Let's not let the topic get too far out of hand here with lies and misinformation. The ONLY thing being proposed is letting people's choice of primary ballot remain private.

The sky will not fall if voter's choice of ballot in the Primary Election becomes private rather than public information. Anyone trying to tell you that it would be the end of the Democratic Party (or any other party) is playing the role of chicken little.

 
At 12/06/2006 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservative Demo here:
_OPEN[?])_ primary?
Being an Iowan I have no say about it but I am willing to share my opinion anyway. I guess I kind of like it the way it is. Been declaring and voting since 1964 and never felt ashamed, embarrassed, or intimidated yet.

I do flip from time-to-time based on who's running for what nomination in which party and like being able to do that. For the past 18 years or so I have declared as a repub each time Mag-The-Bag [Tinsman]came up for re-nomination so I could be sure to vote against her possible nomination.

A fun side-effect was getting all the repub polling calls and screwing around with their premises.

 
At 12/06/2006 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The open primary system is a way to make it an elitist form of government by watering down the two party system.
I do not believe that you know more than the founding fathers about this great country.

 
At 12/06/2006 2:14 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Readers have a great opportunity in this thread.

Read the comments of Dr. Who, which provide calm, factual analysis of this issue and informs readers about what the issue is really about.

Then read the truly disgusting attempts by anonymous' to distort, lie, and twist the facts beyond recognition and using stupid language to try to inflame and corrupt the entire argument.

Talk about founding fathers, destroying the Democratic party and all the other garbage is just that, garbage.

I trust readers can tell that already, but this is a good contrast that shows just how stupid commenters who leave such unserious and lying comments damage the discussion and contribute nothing.

That's why 90% of such comments end up in the slop bucket here at TID.

 
At 12/06/2006 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservative Demo here:
Dr Who has one "fact" incorrect; in Iowa we can declare every time we go vote. Doesn't have to be done only once when we first register.

First time I ever voted was in an Illinois primary in 1964 I believe and that time if I remember correctly I declared at the time of getting the ballot at the polling place.

Personally, I guess I don't understand why anyone would resent his current declaration being public record.

 
At 12/06/2006 7:27 PM, Blogger highxlr8r said...

If you believe that parties play an important role in the political process, then open primaries are a step which will in fact weaken the party system.

A commenter above noted that open primaries would require parties to do more work to get their voters out. That means more phone calls, more knocks at the door, etc. Is that really what voters want? The system now allows primary voters to avoid phone calls, for the most-part.

Parties spending more time and money on those efforts means less time and money spent on actually trying to govern.

I certainly respect the will of the voters, and if they want it, so be it, but it may be a case where they should be careful what they wish for.

 
At 12/06/2006 7:39 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Conservative Demo,
Thanks for that info.

But I'm not sure it's a matter of anyone resenting their declared party being public, but rather that perhaps they'd rather not be catagorized as one or the other.

As it is in IL, you declare as a Dem or Republican, you're going to be on their lists, be contacted, hit up for donations, etc. That's fine, but some may prefer to avoid that.

Also, I think maybe it gets down to the privacy of the ballot extending to party affiliation. Some people may simply prefer that whichever party they prefer at any given time not be a matter of public record.

Just a few guesses as to why an open primary might be preferred.

Of course, the issue is moot, as even Boland has acknowledged that there's not a snowball's chance it will ever pass, so it's really a matter for discussion and debate at this point.

 
At 12/06/2006 7:50 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

High... where ya been? Good to see you back.

I'd dispute a couple of your points however.

First of all, the voter lists generated from which party a voter declares themselves as during primaries is the bible for party GOTV efforts. The party most certainly does call and mail people during primaries, as do individual campaigns.

Also, you say that if parties are made to spend more doing the calling and other GOTV efforts, it will leave less money for actual governing.

But do political parties spend money on governing? Isn't that the government, with tax money, that does that?

I don't recall hearing of the Republican party spending money on say, office expenses for legislators, or the Dem party paying the salary of a committee counsel. How do parties spend money on governing?

As you note, it would prove more difficult for parties to easily mount GOTV efforts, and also as you suggest, it might result in more, rather than less, calls and annoyances to voters.

Personally, I can see both sides of the argument and can't really see which system would be superior.

In general, it seems that open primaries favor voters, while the curent system favors, or at least aids, political parties.

 
At 12/06/2006 8:01 PM, Anonymous BothPartiesAreWrong said...

What about situations where the primary is the de facto race? (Only one party has canidates?)

My father went to vote in a primary where this was the case and when asked his party, he by habit said one - where he really meant to vote in the other.

He quickly corrected himself, but had to fight to be given the correct ballot. "Sir, you cannot vote in the ___ primary unless you are one"

If I truly hate a canidate from another party, why do I not have the right to vote against him, instead of the front runner in my party?

In years where a my party's presidential canidate is seeking re-election and has party support, am I not allowed to have a say in his opponent?

Most of all, like I began with, what if the winner of the primary is to go unopposed? Then do I lose the right to vote entirely?

A vote is a vote, and you have the right to use it in any fashion you want. Closed primaries only serve the parties themselves - not the voters.

 
At 12/06/2006 8:17 PM, Blogger Benton Harbor said...

Personally I don't like declaring for a party. Yes, a declaration of party affiliation brings with it the phone calls, the mailings, and the requests for money. But I've always felt that I'm voting for the person, not the party. While I tend to lean to the Repub side, I also vote for many good Dems.

And that brings up a whole other issue. In RICO, many seats go unchallenged by the Republicans. So to get a chance at voting for a "good" guy, a Republican usually has to cross over and declare as a Democrat to get a chance at voting for a "good" guy. I wouldn't say that's cheating or trying to beat the system... it's just a fact of life in RICO.

If you look at the original intent of the primary voting system, it was for EACH party to pick the so-called best person to represent the party for each seat. From that standpoint, it's good. But from what has happened in RICO over the years, with the Deocratic dominence, one almost HAS to cross over to get any kind of voice in the picking of the best man/woman to run for the position.

While this doesn't solve the argument, it certainly adds another dimension to some of the thinking for holding an open primary.

 
At 12/08/2006 5:53 PM, Blogger Socialist Christian Hippie said...

My original post on this was lost in the ether.

Essentially, I am STRONGLY against open primaries. I am against all primaries, actually. I think the party activists and members should pick nominees at part conventions.

It seems to me that states have no say in the matter of how parties pick candidates. If people "vote" for open primaries, the Democrats should simply ignore the vote.

The current primary system allows telegenic idiots to circumvent the considered decision of those who are trying to do their best for the party.

As to those who would call this "undemocratic"...run your own candidate. Create a new party.

Voting doesn't matter much, anyway. The corporations have more money and more influence than any party, and currently control the nation. We are essentially wage slaves of the large corporations. Most of our lives are run by corporate decisions, not democratic and not governmental.

This is another reason for blocking voters access to primaries. It stops the corporate influence and the need for all that money that simply flows to the media corporations, who own the congress anyway. (see the obscene copyright laws this country has)

Oh, well, time to step off my block.

 
At 12/14/2006 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich republicans discourage voter participation because they KNOW that the rich keep voting no matter what - it's the poor and middle class who get disenfranchised and end up refusing to participate.

The attitude expressed in the previous post seems to me to be more like "Republican Mouthpiece" (or worse) than anything socialist or christian to me.

BEWARE anyone who says that there's ANY reason for "blocking voters access to primaries". For God's sake that sounds more like something that would be said by a godless facist.

How about some truth in advertising here ???

 
At 12/14/2006 1:01 PM, Anonymous neo-nothing said...

What would Jesus do?

He certainly would NOT let the nomination of our leaders be put into the hands of a select few!

My hero threw the moneychangers OUT of the temple - he didn't invite them to choose our leadership!

Christ was a teacher (among other things) who taught people to think about what was right and take action - that's certainly NOT my picture of any party's current leadership.

 
At 12/19/2006 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said..., What is your picture of any party's current leadership? You ran us up to a point and backed off. I think Obama and Clinton are great what are you thinking?

 

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