Monday, January 28, 2008

Reforming the Primary Systems - That's Systems, With an S

We don't have a primary system in this country, because each state sets its own rules for their primaries - and, yes, that's primaries, with an S again. That's because each party sets its own rules in each state.

Now, I'm no mathematician, but I think that's at least 100 different primaries, with respective rules. Which can be superceded by the National Committes (again, plural), which happened in several states, most notably Michigan, Florida, and South Carolina (for Republicans - SC lost half their delegates).

Washington has an even more undemocratic process, mostly due to its muddled rules:
After a 20-year tug-of-war between the political parties and the state over the best way to pick presidential nominees, Washington sticks with an oddball hybrid - caucuses for party activists on Feb. 9, followed by a primary for the broader electorate on Feb. 19.

A voter can use either format or both. In most counties, vote-by-mail primary ballots begin arriving in just a week.

But there's a big catch: Majority Democrats are using only the traditional precinct caucuses and subsequent party conventions to allocate their national convention delegates, and will completely ignore results from the much more popular primary.

Delegates can be won, wholesale, in the winner-takes-all states. Other states split the delegates. It can result in relatively small numbers, nonetheless, taking at least a few delegates.

My suggestion is to follow along with the count. The magic number, for Republicans, is 1,191. For Democrats, it's 2,025. Keep track of your favorite's numbers, and decide whether it's worth wasting a vote on him/her to send a message to the national party.

My suggestion?

Bunch the primaries into regional consortiums; Northeast, South, Southwest, and Northwest. Maybe allow the really big players (CA, TX, NY) to set their own dates.

That would both preserve the regional focus, and make it a lot easier for the candidates to travel around without aging 20 years in the process. Also, for the environmentally minded, it should save on fuel.

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