Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Vote

Washington just won a big one (not Heller, silly, that's the OTHER Washington) before the Supreme Court of the United States. As voters we can go back to supporting who we wish in our primary elections without being locked into registering and voting for candidates of one party or another.

To provide a little back story, Washington started out with an open general primary that the voters rather liked. You could vote for whomever you wanted without registering for one party or another, and the winning contenders of each party would go on to the general election. All was good in the land.

Then a case in California (where a similar system was in place) was decided by the courts, setting precedent, that such systems unconstitutionally took the decision of who they would support away from the parties. Not long after, to the vast anger of the voters in Washington, the Washington GOP & Dem's got together to throw out Washingtons open primary, followed by dueling initiatives and court cases.

Seems Washington voters were mightily unhappy at having their choice to vote for the best candidate taken away, as they viewed the primary not as choosing the party nominee, but as whittling down the field among all the nominees. They passed an initiative to that effect (adopting the Louisiana style primary, where the top two vote getters go forward to the general regardless of party affiliatioin), with a "Plan B" clause that stated we'd go to a closed primary (where you have to register a party and can only select candidates from that party in the primary) if the Louisiana style primary was found unconstitutional. The Governor at the time, Gary Locke, found that since the GOP & DEM were going to court to bar the use of the Loiusiana style primary - that he'd require the use of the closed primary (what he and both parties wanted anyway) until the Supremes told him otherwise.

Heh. heh. heh.

The Supreme Court of the United States just ruled that the Louisiana style primary was perfectly legitimate and constitutional. Leaving both major parties worse off than when they started, as now they face the dread prospect of general elections where both candidates participating are of the same party.

The only downside is that third parties are kind of out of luck under the present system, a less than good thing - unless they start claiming to be caucuses rather than parties, and running their candidates under one of the major parties rubrics. I.e., a Green running as a variety of Democrat or a Libertarian running as a type of Republican - which in turn would tend to stir up both the parties just fine.

It's going to be interesting.

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