In November of 2000, the voters selected Al Gore(D) as the top U.S. presidential candidate – but George Bush(R) was nonetheless elected president with the help of the U.S. Supreme Court and the electoral college. In 2016, Hillary Clinton(D) won the popular vote for president, but Donald Trump(R) was nonetheless elected and sworn in as president – again because of the constitutionally mandated electoral college process. Worse yet, it’s likely that this travesty will be repeated in the coming years – if nothing is done.
Recently, there’s been an uptick of support at the Independent Voter Network (IVN) for an election reform proposal called “The Public Ballot”. Basically, the existing Democrat and Republican primaries are not altered, but a third major party primary for Independent and minor party candidates is added.
This idea was first introduced in California by two Republican assembly members as ACR 145 – 2016. A very similar proposal called “The Peoples Primary” was introduced in the Oregon legislature by Republicans in 2017 as HB-3140. Both proposals died quickly in legislative committees.
These proposals look a lot like the hybrid primary, and the posts at IVN use a lot of the same rhetoric and language that’s used to argue for the hybrid primary. Both proposals use three different ballots, and the posts at IVN even use a diagram showing the three ballots side-by-side, just like the posts here. So let’s compare the diagrams to see how the proposals match up.
A closed primary allows major parties the opportunity to consolidate their support behind a single candidate for each office. In the past, this eliminated vote splitting in the general election – because the two major parties represented the vast majority of voters. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Democratic party has begun to fracture badly.
“Liberal” and “Progressive” are not the same thing, and many progressive voters do not support the priorities and solutions advocated by liberal Democrats. Indeed, many progressive voters are not liberal. Increasingly, these “other” progressives are choosing not to participate in the Democratic primary as voters or candidates. As a result, in the coming years, two or more strong progressive candidates will likely advance to every significant general election. The predictable outcome is that a single conservative candidate will win election by default. (Bush, Gore/Nader – Florida 2000)
“Ranked Choice Voting” (RCV) is a simple and effective method of consolidating all the progressive vote prior to the final vote tally in a general election.
A few months before each primary election, in states that conduct closed primaries, articles begin to appear claiming that independents can vote in the upcoming major party primaries. Voters only need to submit a form requesting a partisan ballot, or in some cases, simply choose a partisan ballot on election day. These are often claimed to be “hybrid”, “semi-open” or “semi-closed” primaries. In one case, the author actually claims the primary is “open”. The posts excerpted below are great examples:
The best way to explain the hybrid primary is by examining the ballots that voters may choose to use. Shown below are “mock” ballots for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Primary. These are representations of actual ballots received by Oregon voters in May of 2016. (Note: Oregon had 3 major parties in 2016, but the third party had no presidential candidate.)
A closed primary is a private election, limited to affiliated party members, who must declare their party affiliation in order to participate. All unaffiliated voters are excluded. All unaffiliated candidates are excluded.