Skip to main content

In Arizona this year we have Proposition 121 on the ballot.  It’s called the Open Elections/Open Government Act.  It also goes by the name of the Top 2 Primary Initiative.  If the Proposition is approved by voters, Arizona's constitution will be amended to modify the electoral process at the state level.

Rather than primary elections that are open only to those affiliated with a political party, all voters will be eligible to vote in an open primary regardless of affiliation or lack of affiliation.   The same would apply to candidates.  An unlimited number could compete on the same ballot regardless of affiliation or lack of affiliation.   The top 2 candidates by popular vote in the primary would proceed to the general election in November.

The Top 2 Primary System must be fully explained and understood to see how it could change the partisan nature of our political system.  I compare it to the electoral process used in some European countries like France.  Don’t breathe a word of that to anyone.  Americans have an inexplicable antipathy to all things European.  

The idea is to have as many candidates as needed in the primary so that 100% of the electorate has a candidate it could support conscientiously.  The full spectrum of choices available would increase voter turnout.  The state legislature districts are small enough to have distinctive demographics in various parts of the state.  The number of candidates representing all interest groups would splinter the vote so that the top 2 who proceed to the general election would be able to do so even with a small base.  In France, for example, the top 2 by popular vote in the primary might have only 20% - 25% of votes cast.  

A general election between two candidates who received only 23% and 18%, for example, as the top 2 in the primary might seem problematic.   It works because the candidates are expected to form coalitions with their former competitors in the primary, based on affinity.  They have to form a coalition to reach the 50% + 1 majority to win in the general election.   Strategy is important.  If a top 2 candidate wants the endorsement of a former competitor, he can have it if he offers to support that candidate’s platform.  This is how alternative parties, independents, and unaffiliated voters can use leverage to get representation for their agenda.   In the general election, voters are expected to remember strategy to choose the candidate who represents their own interests most closely.  In other words, voters don’t flounce.  If they do, they betray their own interests.

Contrast this system with what we do now.  Having third parties in the general election is ineffective.  It splinters the vote at the wrong time in the electoral process.   The third party gains no leverage for playing the role of spoiler.   Voting for a third party to “send a message” is a popular notion but it doesn’t really advance the interest the party promotes.   The agenda of third parties is locked out of participation in our imitation of democracy.   That can be corrected by loading third party activity at the front end of the electoral process in the primary.  Either the third party will gain enough votes to proceed as one of the top 2 or it will get support for its agenda because it has something to give, namely the votes of its members.  This bargaining process is absent from the American electoral system today.  

The two party system isn’t operating to the full satisfaction of many voters today.   Alternative parties don’t thrive and establish permanence.   By rolling out the top 2 primary system at the state level there’s at least a chance of beginning an evolution to a more democratic system that will provide true representation for everyone.

Here’s a Youtube video explaining the advantages of the Top 2 Primary system.

Originally posted to leftreborn on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 04:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Phoenix Kossacks.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site