Eliminate the Primary?

[Note: the Devil’s Advocate signed in for this post to write the concluding paragraph.]
From today’s Woonsocket Call:

A move by the General Assembly to grant a waiver of the traditional waiting period for disaffiliating from a political party could put more voters at the polls for Tuesday’s Democratic Primary for the late Roger R. Badeau’s State Senate seat.
Badeau’s death while in office on Jan. 25 set the stage for a special election in the East Woonsocket and Cumberland Hill district to replace the veteran Woonsocket senator. The candidate filing period yielded three Senate hopefuls — Rosina L. Hunt of 68 Hamlet Ave., Roger A. Picard of 764 Mendon Road, and Cumberland’s contender, Thomas J. Scully of 66 Beamis Ave. All three are Democrats and without a Republican contender, the contest will actually be decided on Tuesday for all intents and purposes.

The changing of the rules to open up this primary and effectively render it a general election [edit] enable recently disaffiliated voters to participate is for a noble cause in this case: to ensure that all more voters in Senate District 20 have a say in the selection of their state senator.
The less lofty practice of cross party primary raids, whereby members of a party will attempt to pick the candidate of an opposition party by changing affiliation and voting in the primary of that party, is certainly not unheard of. Perhaps one of the better known examples of this is the recent “campaign” by a National Radio Talk Show Host urging Republicans to cross over and vote for a particular Democrat presidential candidate. “Do-overs” are presently being contemplated for the Democrat presidential primaries in Florida and Michigan, whose delegates were eliminated by the DNC because they moved up the dates of their primaries in violation of DNC rules. [In this matter, I agree with another National Radio Talk Show Host.] In short, primaries are not always carried out as intended. Is it time to eliminate the primary altogether? Undoubtedly, they drag out the election process, a condition that has been exacerbated by the recent trend of states moving the dates of their primaries up and up so as to have a greater influence in the selection of presidential candidates. They can make it far more expensive to run for office. Under the American electoral system, we select our candidates by a plurality, not a majority. In that regard, there is no need to narrow the field with a primary. So why shouldn’t we go straight to a general election?

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16 years ago

I live in the senate district. I didn’t vote in the GOP primary as I had planned because I realized I would be boxed out of the senate primary (I didn’t vote in the Dem. primary either).
While the motives are good, we need to stop changing the rules as we go along.
As for primaries, I think they might work better if they are used to narrow the field to two candidates, regardless of party affiliation. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent in the primary, he or she is elected. Anyone think of any drawbacks?

16 years ago

As long as the traditional News Media continues to rake in millions of dollars on these Primaries , local as well as national , unfortunately we shouldn’t expect one iota of change .Sad testimony on our priorities !!

Scott Bill Hirst
Scott Bill Hirst
16 years ago

While I appreciate the thought of why a primary with no candidate of the other party on the ballot such as in the late Sen. Badeau’s district, a primary is a party affair and I don’t support the change for a waiver.I think in California in a special election all candidates are on the ballot to fill a vacancy for all to vote on.
BTW rules in each state vary regarding nominations in prmaries.In Alaska and Louisiana for example you can vote for a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another in a primary. I do know Louisiana allows candidates who get a certain amount of votes elected or there is a run-off between the top candidates in the primary.
Speaking of primaries, the irony in Rhode Island on the just completed Presidential Primaries the Democrats have 33 delegates to their convention and Republicans twenty. However the Dems in RI only let voters elect 13 delegates out of their 33 total delegates and the Republicans elect 17 out of twenty delegates. Also because of gender requirements on the Democratic side top votegetters are not necessarily ranked that way when it comes to delegate allocation.

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