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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

M90 is a threat to party hacks

Written October 12th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
OK, let's concentrate on Oregon election issues while the sun shines on a California beach.

OK, let’s concentrate on Oregon election issues while the sun shines on a California beach.

We have heard little about Oregon’s Ballot Measure 90 in the general election. Maybe that’s because the proposal makes too much sense. It provides for open or “top two” primary elections, which are so much fairer than the system we have that debate seems pointless.

More likely, reforming the way we vote is too dry a topic for anybody to get excited about. M90 appears not nearly as interesting as legalizing marijuana, for example, but it’s far more important.

Measure 90 would end the practice of the state paying for separate partisan primary elections in which more than half a million Oregon voters and taxpayers can’t take part because they don’t call themselves Democrats or Republicans. Instead, we would have one open primary election in which every voter can participate and in which any eligible citizen can run.

Candidates would be identified by their party registration if they have one, and not if they don’t, and the party organizations could endorse whomever they want. Voters would make their choices, and the top two finishers for each office would appear on the ballot in the general election.

Fourteen of the 19 members of a citizen review panel organized under state law found fault with the plan, but their fears are baseless. They say the measure would limit the voice of minority parties. That’s absurd. Members and candidates of small political groups would have the same rights as everyone else, where now they are shut out from the main partisan primaries.

The critics on that panel also claim the measure would eliminate minor parties. How? Minor parties would continue to organize and carry on the way they do now. If their candidates rarely or never make the top two, the result is no different from now. The only difference is that fringe candidates would no longer have the chance to affect the outcome in a close general election.

Measure 90 should appeal to all those conscientious voters who say they vote for the man or woman, not for the party. On Nov. 5 we’ll know if there are enough of those voters, or whether we’ll be condemned to muddle along with the system we have, a system that far too often populates our public offices with mediocrities and party hacks. (hh)



6 responses to “M90 is a threat to party hacks”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “Measure 90 would end the practice of the state paying for separate partisan primary elections in which more than half a million Oregon voters and taxpayers can’t take part because they don’t call themselves Democrats or Republicans. Instead, we would have one open primary election in which every voter can participate and in which any eligible citizen can run.”

    Bravo! Ever since I changed to “Non-Affiliated” many years ago, I’ve always felt dis-enfranchised at primary time. It’s an easy Vote YES on M90 for me…

    • Bob Deveny commented on Facebook: “Advocates of Measure 90 have lost sight of the original purpose of primary elections. If you’re going to have open primaries, why not just one general election instead?”

  2. Warren Beeson says:

    The only problem with this measure is that it doesn’t work. It simply does not achieve what its sponsors claim for it – ie. that it gives people more choices and gives the electorate better candidates. Both Washington and California use this system now and both are still solidly single-party dominated systems. The real-world result has actually been that the dominant liberal Democrats have nominated both candidates and strengthened the one-party, no-alternative system. It is puzzling moreover, just exactly what is it that’s so bad about a two-party system? It seemed to meet the approval of our founding fathers who quickly formed into two separate parties based on their particular ideology. Personally, I like the idea of parties where you can identify someone’s leanings by the party they represent. Its at least a clue as to what they will do. Independents, on the other hand just sway with the prevailing breeze. If you want to vote in a primary its easy, make a choice and join one party or the other.

    • The party system would be all right if only the parties meant something. But since there is no “membership” requirement, anybody can call himself one or the other party and the label means nothing. The other problem is that the state now conducts nominating elections for what should be essentially private organizations. (hh)

    • Fact Checker says:

      Political parties of our “Founding Fathers” (Presidents):

      -No party affiliation
      -Federalist
      -Democratic-Republican
      -Democratic
      -Whig
      -Independent
      -Republican
      -National Union

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    And what if you have 3 worthy candidates?
    I realize the odds are low of getting ONE, but……..

 

 
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