Should the lid come off?

California has what’s called a modified-closed primary system: there’s no crossover voting, technically, but parties have the option to allow unaffiliated voters to participate. In the 2008 Presidential primary, both the Democratic and American Independent parties took this option.

Proposition 14, on the June ballot, would replace this system with an entirely-open single primary, at least for statewide offices: all candidates would appear on a single ballot, and all registered voters could participate regardless of party affiliation. The candidates finishing first and second would then meet in a runoff.

Six years ago, a similar measure (Prop. 62) was defeated. I don’t know how this one is going to fare. I’m not even sure what I think of it. I’m used to the closed primary here, and, as Roberta X says, “a party’s actual members ought to be the ones influencing its direction and picking its candidates.” Then again, given some of the candidates we’ve seen in recent years, there might be reason to question those members’ judgment.

So I’m throwing this one open. How would you view a system like this?


  1. Charles Pergiel »

    7 May 2010 · 10:14 am

    On one hand politics is a complete waste of time. On the other, it is the only game worth playing. So I guess it’s a matter of whether you want to play or not.

  2. Peter J. Rudy »

    7 May 2010 · 12:11 pm

    I think a primary should be open to independents if there is no one running in the other party resulting in the winner of the primary winning the seat. As a registered Independent, I understand that I shouldn’t have a say in who should represent the Republican Party in my district. However, I DO think i should have a say in who my representative actually is. And if the Democrats don’t field a candidate, my only chance to have a say in who my representative is would be in the primary.

  3. McGehee »

    7 May 2010 · 1:43 pm

    In principle I think only registered voters in a party should have a say in choosing the party’s nominee — but this proposal isn’t about who selects either party’s nominee. What it does is essentially make elections, as far as the government’s involvement is concerned, nonpartisan.

    Thus the parties will revert to being political clubs whose main interest will be in getting their respective members as high in the vote totals in the primary as possible. The result will be more behind-the-scenes maneuvering to discourage marginal candidates from running. I’m not sure how that makes things better (or for that matter, worse).

  4. hatless in hattiesburg »

    7 May 2010 · 3:52 pm

    McGehee sums up most of my thoughts on this – and the less that the two-party system has a stranglehold (literally) on American politics the better.

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