The states should stay out of primaries

As if it wasn’t bad enough with these states arguing with the DNC and RNC over when to have their primaries. Every state’s response should be, “I’m paying for it so fuck off!” But why should we taxpayers have to even pay for these primary elections? It gets even worse now that the national committees (at least the Reps) are using “right of association” to determine who can run under their name. Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party WTF!! So the state has to toady to a private organization and run what is basically a vote for an endorsement? Will the state also pay for an election to see who my teachers’ union will endorse? (Nevermind, we always endorse the Democrat).

Now those of us that want to start our own political party (any dissatisfied Republicans want to form a new Bull-Moose Party?) know that at the state level, political parties are legal entities and yes (as an Electoral College supporter) a presidential election is really a state election; so I can see an argument of states having jurisdiction over partisan primaries to control the number of candidates for the general election - but I don’t think state-run partisan primaries are the way to go. Everyone should be eligible for the state primary and the top two vote getters run in the general. What’s that RNC and DNC? You only want one person representing your party? Fine! Figure out a way to determine who you want to endorse USING YOUR MONEY AND RESOURCES and get back to us.

While I generally oppose national-level anything (inefficiency), this has nothng to do with govenrment coercion. Simply put, the current system has some whacked-out primary-hungry states pushing their primaries out to ludicrously front-loaded levels. Frankly, it’s getting ridiculous, and it skews election results and media coverage to no good result.

Absolutely; why should Iowa and New Hampshire–highly rural states driven by idiosycratic issues like Ethanol or who has the best maple syrup–be so crucial in a nation where ~75% of the population live in cities? The ridiculous lengths these states will go to preserve their primary/caucus position belies how unimportant they really are.

Not that I disagree with your overall conclusion, but NH is not rural in the sense that Iowa is rural. Much of NH is an extension of the Boston area (sorry about that, folks from NH) and is pretty suburban. I suspect that your 75% number is more about suburban + urban folks, not just urban.

Also, keep in mind that you need to look at the electoral map, not the raw population map when thinking about presidential elections. You might not like the EC, but it’s a fact that has to be dealt with.

Specifically, the fact that two of the most closely-contested states were Iowa and New Hampshire.

Iowa has 7 votes and NH has 4. There are 13 states with more EC votes than both of them combined (there are another 3 with the same number). In other words, 32% of the states are more “valuable” than IA and NH put together. So why does that mean they get to go first?

Or maybe that sound I heard was me missing your point by a mile?

The issue proposed for debate is not when the primaries should be scheduled, but whether the two main political parties – which are not, after all, government agencies of any kind – should be allowed to conduct their primary elections using public facilities at public expense.

I say, they should, but, in all fairness, only if the same privilege is extended to the minor parties – which would be unlikely to avail themselves of it anyway, because they are small and tightly-knit enough organizations to use caucuses and nominating conventions to choose nominees who genuinely represent the choice of the rank-and-file. Which the Republicrats can’t do, save through primaries.

On a related note, The California Elections Code establishes the parties as formal entities. It goes on to define how party officials will be elected and allocated at the state and county levels. It goes on to define what can happen if someone is absent from party meetings and other minutia.

Someone from San Francisco had a beef with the state butting into party business. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, essentially, that state laws dictating the composition and inner workings of political parties were unconstitutional as an infringement upon free association.

However, despite this ruling, the election of county level party officials is still run by the county as part of the public ballot with the number of officials being determined according to the Elections Code provisions.

I suppose the party could legally opt out of this process and elect its own officials in whatever manner it saw fit pursuant to its own bylaws. The trade-off of opting out would be that the county or state would not use its resources to run the election.

I still can’t figure out why the state and county had or have any desire to regulate the selection of local party officials and other inner workings of the party by law.

The answer should be “no,” especially when they’re whining “We’re a private organization! PRIVATE! Our elections need to be private, too” Fine. Then they should pay for their own damn private elections. I don’t pay for the Lions’ or the Elks’ or the Boy Scouts to hold elections. I see no reason why my taxes are paying for party elections - especially given how expensive they are to hold.

Didn’t the primaries used to be done in smoke filled back rooms? I was under the impression that the system we have now came about as a way to let regular people have more influence into the system. I am very much in favor of having the political process more open so state run primaries are fine by me.

Well, that could be a self-fulfilling prophecy if both parties choose their candidates based on who can compete the best in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Here is the practical answer: Until a state, or a bloc of states can’t beat the national power of the DNC or RNC, then each of those committees can refuse to seat delegates from a state.

Example: Florida next year.

The DNC is threatening not to seat FL delegates because we are holding our primary in January. The state is taking this VERY seriously. All states jockey for the position to be where the maximum number of serious candidates show up and campaign all over the state to increase the influence that BIG SHOTS in the GOP and DEMS have at the state level.

And who will vote to change the current system? The BIG SHOTS in the local state legislature who will gain more power by competing for earlier state primaries?

You might say the feds should step in. But do they have the constitutional power?

Yes, nominations for all political offices–legislator, governor, congressman–were by party convention before the advent of the state-run primary in the early Twentieth Century.

In rural Nineteenth Century America, conventions worked well and were reasonably “open”–anyone interested enough would show up at a public meeting place on the assigned day and debate nominations with their friends and neighbors. In big cities, machine bosses tended to dominate the process, which is one reason why progressive “reformers” of the early Twentieth Century advocated state-run primaries as a substitute.

It isn’t obvious, however, that the primary was ever really more “open” than the convention. Machine bosses dominated primaries as readily as conventions. We still see a few vestiges of the convention system in the presidential nominating process, as for example in states such as Iowa which choose delegates via party caucus, and for my money the caucus process works just as well.

I would prefer to abolish the state-run primary for the following reasons:

  1. It’s wrong on principle. The state shouldn’t be in the business of dictating how parties nominate candidates, nor of funding the process by which they do so.

  2. The parties themselves, if left in control of their own nominating processes, would likely do a better job. With respect to presidential elections, the national parties could break the choke-hold of Iowa and New Hampshire and the front-loading danse macabre simply by dictating when each state party would choose its delegates, without any intervention from the state legislature. With respect to state office, state parties would be free to experiment with innovations such as instant runoff and Internet voting and see whether they work.

  3. If parties controlled their own nominating process, we would likely see more ideologically coherent parties, which in turn would mean that we would probably have more of them. Instead of two incoherent giant-tent parties, we would probably have three or four smaller and more coherent parties, as is the case in every other democracy.

There’s a simple solution to this in my humble opinion. The Legislature simply needs to pass a law that any policitical party that refuses to seat the Florida delegation does not get their candidate on the general election ballot.

You think the RNC or DNC would be willing to forfeit 27 EC votes?

I fear that would be too obvious of a bluff. Could you imagine the week before Election Day 2008 when CNN reports “Mrs. Clinton has no worries in Florida because she is assured of a victory as her Republican opponent has been forced off of the ballot. The Democrats can already chalk up 27 Electoral Votes.”

There would be outrage. Remember in 2000, the fact that illiterate homeless people wo could not read a ballot in Palm Beach County. then cast their votes for the wrong guy, after ignoring many ballot instructions, this was called being “disenfranchised”? What would people call it when a major party candidate is left off of the ballot entirely?

I agree with you in principle. There is no logical reason why NH and Iowa should hold these prestigious spots every year.