Welcome, I’m Paul Damian Wells, a voting rights activist from Corvallis, Oregon. In 1992 I ran as an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate and filed a federal court case challenging unequal ballot access requirements for Independent candidates. I lost the court battle and didn’t even get on the ballot that first year. I’ve been actively involved in election reform nearly every election since. I’ve run as a candidate for Oregon Secretary of State six times in the last 22 years – demanding the primary election be opened to Independents. This is my website.
For years, I have been a staunch advocate for nonpartisan elections and the top-two primary. Unfortunately, top-two ballot initiatives were placed on the Oregon ballot twice in 2008 and 2014. Both initiatives failed miserably by a 2:1 margin. A similar ballot measure failed in Arizona by the same 2:1 margin in 2012. In all three cases, pre-election polls showed better than 60% support for election reform.
I had a website called http://www.thekeel.org for many years, with an archive of my activity. In 2016, I finally came to my senses and realized that the Top-Two primary was a dead-end in Oregon. I spent many hours on the web and in the library looking for an alternative to the Top-Two and found nothing. So, I invented the “Hybrid Primary” – a compromise solution that established a Top-Four primary, but still kept the closed partisan primaries. I abandoned my old website and started over from scratch here with this new website.
The top-two primary is a solution – but for many voters, it’s not an acceptable solution. At best, only 40% of registered voters are Independents. We need 50% to pass any reform initiative. To get there, we need the support of progressive major and minor party voters. We need to come up with an alternative solution that addresses the issues critical to partisan voters – because partisan opposition to election reform can be extreme……
“He faces only token opposition in the Primary. His opponent, Paul Damian Wells, is a Newberg tech worker and perennial applicant for state office. Wells is a one-issue candidate who runs only as a way of highlighting his personal belief that party primaries should be abolished; he sought the same office in 2000 as a Republican. We expect we haven’t seen the last of him, though we can always hope.”
Willamette Week Newspaper, Editorial Staff, May 4, 2004
Voter or Activist?
There are two very distinct groups interested in election reform that might visit this website: voters and activists. Voters are typically Independents who are upset when they find out they live in a closed primary state. Activists all start out as voters, but for whatever reason, choose to move beyond just being upset and complaining. Activists get directly involved trying to bring about real change. This site is targeted almost exclusively at activists – but if you’re a voter – welcome anyway – and please stay.
Blog or Reference Site?
Just as there are two types of individual visiting a website like this, there are two types of websites that cater to visitors interested in election reform: dynamic blogs and static reference sites. The Independent Voter Network is a good example of a dynamic blog. (www.ivn.us) They have a weekly blog and update it regularly with posts about groups and individuals from all over the United States. If you would like to stay on top of what other activists nationwide are doing – check them out. (www.ivn.us is the homepage on my desktop computer.)
This site has a blog page and it was created using wordpress – but it really isn’t a blog and it isn’t updated on a regular basis. This is a static reference site, and the posts here are generally used to define terms or analyze reform strategies. Before the internet, these types of documents were called “white papers”. The intention is not to “compete” with sites like IVN, but to “complement” and cooperate.
The single most important post on this site is “Anti-Propaganda 2040: A twenty-year plan for free presidential elections.” This is a strategy paper analyzing the current state of election reform in the United States, and it sets out a plan for moving forward. It’s necessarily long, but if you’re interested in what “real” voting rights activists are doing, you should give it a look.
There aren’t many pictures posted here either. This site looks a little bland, but that’s because it’s intended as a source of “information” rather than “entertainment”. I do have some political cartoons – but that’s just because I love political cartoons.