Seattle Times Political Caucus
The Seattle Times Political Caucus is an online community aimed at adding diverse voices to our coverage of politics. How we'll use the Caucus will evolve over time. But the idea is to create a conversation with people of various backgrounds and political beliefs. As the election season unfolds, we'll ask participants to weigh in on key political questions and then post their comments here.
August 19, 2008 1:32 PM
Posted by Katherine Long
Our question to the Seattle Times Political Caucus today: Is the new top-two primary system an improvement over our latest primary, which required voters to pick a party ballot? Were you satisfied with the choices of candidates in the various races? If you vote at the polls on Tuesday, how was turnout? Was it busy at your precinct or dead as the night? What did you think about the election results?
Eric LeMay, South: What's interesting already by the question is that I bet most of us voted a week or more ago. Tuesdays ain't what they use to be for elections.
Benjamin Lukoff, Seattle: There's never really any choice, and this primary is no different. Top-two is better than by-party, though. I am tired of subsidizing the parties' nomination processes. Let's get out of that completely and lower the bar to get on the general election ballot.
Hugh Coleman, Kelso: My ballot came in the mail and I voted at that time. I had no problem with the way things were handled. I wish there were a fewer less offices with only one candidate.
Ken MacDonald, Seattle: The effort to isolate the primary from the parties in the voters pamphlet looks like a joke to me (ie "prefers GOP" or "prefers democratic"). The notion seems to be popular in an increasingly one party region.
The biggest non-partisan political unit is the City of Seattle. We get a continuous stream of left wing candidates running on issues they immediately ignore when they get to public office.
I had never thought much about it before getting the new primary system. But looking at it in a more thoughtful light we could get a county council and state government as inept as the Seattle school board has been or the Seattle City Council, both of whom have a track record of grandstanding rhetoric while failing to take care of the fundamental business of the city. The bags fees and endless racial parsing have not improved education, parks, transportation, or public safety.
Bill Wippel, Normandy Park: I voted absentee. I was wondering if the facts in the voters pamphlet concerning candiates are accurate? If they allow candidates to write their own material for this, is there anyone checking that what they say is the truth?
Dean Olson, Seattle: It's too late for primaries and I miss the League of Women's Voter pamphlet. Even the junk mail has not been informative.
David Spring, North Bend: I am predicting a low voter turn out for the primary Hard core Democrats and hard core Republicans will vote, but there is little incentive for the majority of independent swing voters to bother with it. The problem is not just the Top Two primary, it is the lame idea of having a primary in August. At least half the State of Washington is on vacation this month. How undemocratic can we get to hold an election when everyone is out of town?
Jim Morrell, Sedro-Woolley: This was a huge improvement over the last primary where we had to commit to a party. I was able to vote (write-in) for whomever I chose to vote, and I voted across party lines as I often do. While I lean Republican, there were Democratic candidates and a couple of people from independent parties who had merit, and their ideas were better than the ideas of the incumbent or other major party.
Of the rights we are guaranteed in this country, one is freedom. In this case, I had the freedom to choose the individual whom I thought was the best possible candidate regardless of party affiliation. In the previous election, I was denied that right, and I was forced to choose individuals from one party, regardless of how inept they were, or how baseless their ideas were. In a couple of cases, I didn't vote for a particular office because I couldn't stomach the candidate.
The main groups of people that don't like this system are the bigwigs of the parties. They can't exert their power and controlling behavior over us to force us to vote within one party. That's not what's best for the country or the State of Washington. We want the best people in office, regardless of party affiliation, with the best ideas to get us out of the mess we're in. Limiting choices to one party not only restricts my freedom as a voter, it also allows mediocre individuals with a clear lack of vision, foresight, and talent to run highly influential offices in government. Hence, we have the some of the loathsome conditions we currently experience.
This is the best system for primary voting, and I am one happy camper. I'm also out of the claws of the party leaders' narrow restrictive system.
Bob Barren, Seattle: I have been thinking about this top two primary. The subject of a TV commentator during an interview (generally) said that instead of picking the top Republican or top Democrat, we will now be picking the best person. I am having trouble with this concept. Growing up I saw the PRI party in Mexico choose the best candidate. They were always ideologically the same. No matter what they offered as to their differences. They thought the same. The American political system offered homogeneity but you also got choice. The top two primary is removing that choice. In the end you will have different candidates with the same ideas. The people will not have a choice in the end. I do know that it is common for tax and routine legislation slipped forward in off year elections or primaries where only the most loyal and most activist tend to vote. Unpopular legislative action has a better chance to vote. I fear that is happening to ideas as well. The opportunity to consider true choices is limited. I do know that that has happened I many authoritarian countries, like Mexico under the PRI. I certainly don't want that model of government repeated here.
Nathan Janes, Seattle: My main concern in any election is that I be allowed to vote as I see fit. If ANY tax dollars are used for an election my choice should not be limited to one party. Whether the primary is Top Two or not is irrelevant. If the parties want to control the voting in the primary, then they should fully fund it. If ONE CENT of tax money is used, my choice must never be restricted.
Jeff Grubb, Panther Lake: Voting in the primary is your chance to wave goodbye to all the minor parties, which will never be seen again in a general ballot. The top-two is a nasty little patch to the original blanket primary,a patch that does not fix the minor problem they wanted to fix in the first place (individuals crossing party lines to vote).
If the major parties really want to keep the primaries for solidly registered supporters, that's cool. But the state should charge them for the use of the facilities and support in order to help them select their candidates.
Bob Barren, Seattle: Looking around the local net and some of the local newscasts, it appears that this is a largely mail in election. That has some interesting potential for electioneering and political communication. More and more personalized, targeted information dissemination, most likely email, is going to have the best effect. The candidates who come out of this primary need to groom their email lists and look to acquire lists from like-minded groups. Snail mail is pushing the digital transformation.
Sarah Everett, Seattle: I believe the top-two primary system is an improvement over the pick-a-party primary we had in 2004. In past elections, I have rarely if ever split my ballot, but even I didn't like the idea of having my choices limited by a "party ballot". However, I don't think the top-two primary system is an improvement over the blanket-primary we had for nearly 70 years prior to 2004. But that's a moot point now, obviously, because the blanket-primary system was ruled unconstitutional.
The problem I see with the new top-two primary system is that minority candidates stand very little chance of advancing to the general election. Prior to this election, every party nominated a candidate during the primary and that candidate advanced to the general election. That's not the case any more- the new system is not a nominating process. As a conservative/republican living in the state's largest Democratic voting district, I may never have a candidate to vote for in the general election. That means my "minority" views will never be represented in Olympia. Unless I'm missing something, that doesn't seem fair.
Rob Meyer, Kettle Falls: As of 1:00 PM in Stevens County, they say the turnout will be LESS than the predicted 46% state-wide. I find that hard to believe.
At the Glass Repair Shop this morning, I saw three ballots on the owners desk, ready to mail (we do All-mail-in over here).
At the Pharmacy, every employee was talking about having mailed in, or delivered their ballot in person...as I did later this morning.
Stevens County Auditor said their had been a "steady stream" come in since ballots were sent to voters, but they had no numbers or predictions.
Expect a Rossi/Gregoire gubernatorial final...but Rossi will take Stevens (and probably Ferry and Pend O'Reille Counties) by a 60-40 or 65-35 margin in November.
More later, if I don't lose power again (major wind-storm and major wildfire down in Creston/Davenport area last night and this morning is wreaking havoc with power lines and phone lines).
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