June 29, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

OpEd: Why Should Taxpayers Pay for Closed Primaries?:

California’s June presidential primary election is now just a memory, long ago subsumed in the news by vice presidential derbies, political conventions, politicians’ gaffes and violence at home and abroad.

But one question lingers on: Why did taxpayers have to cover the primary election costs for those political parties that did not let any voter who liked cast a ballot in their contests?

In June, Democrats and Greens allowed anyone registered as either a Democrat or without party preference to vote in their primaries, although there were a few hoops for non-Democrats to jump through. Republicans and a couple of minor parties (American Independent, for one) did not. They ran completely closed affairs, with no one not registered as a party member allowed to vote.

This meant barely 27 percent of registered voters could participate in the Republican balloting, which turned out to be no big loss for anyone because Donald Trump’s significant opponents all dropped out weeks before the vote.

But why should the 68 percent of voters eligible to vote on the Democratic side have had to contribute to the costs of running the Republican primary when there was no way for them to participate even if they wanted to?

The parties say that was because by holding a primary, they did a public service. Wait a minute: That service was only for the relative few who chose to become members of the GOP.

Compare this to the Top Two primary system used in all California primaries except those for president. Anyone registered to vote, regardless of which party they chose to join, if any, can vote for anyone on the ballot.

That’s a truly public event, as opposed to the private nature of a closed primary like the GOP’s. It is arguably a far greater public service, too, because it offers all voters a chance to select whichever candidate they like – unlike a closed primary that denies most voters the right to participate.

No one has yet broken out the cost of any one party’s presidential primary from the overall costs of staging elections, mailing out ballots and then counting those that are cast.

But the cost of closed California primaries this spring surely was many millions of dollars. Nationally, the New York-based Open Primaries organization pegged the cost of closed presidential primaries at $287 million.

Of course, both major parties would love to keep all their primaries closed. That’s why they sued (and won) in the late 1990s to throw out the so-called “blanket primary” system approved by California voters in 1996. That setup, like Top Two, allowed all voters to choose any candidate they liked, but separated vote counts by party, so that all qualified parties were guaranteed a place on the fall ballot in each race they entered.

But four years later, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld arguments from both major state parties claiming it was unconstitutional for non-party members to help choose party nominees. This left open the route taken by Top Two, where the runoff election candidates are not chosen by party, but simply by being one of the two leading vote-winners in a single primary. That’s why this fall California will see 28 races with both candidates from the same party.

This kind of selection process winnows out candidates who don’t draw many votes, but still could pull enough to distort the final outcome if they were on the November ballot.

It all harkens back to the days when there were no primaries and parties chose their candidates in state and national conventions (now reduced to elaborate pep rallies) featuring “smoke-filled rooms.”

“Primaries are actually bad public policy,” says Richard Winger, who runs the newsletter Ballot Access News. “We’re the only country in the world that lets the population decide the candidates.”

Yes, things might be smoother for presidential candidates if they didn’t have to slog through up to two years of campaigning before the first primary. But primaries make politicians accountable to the public, where accountability is only indirect when the parties pick their own leaders.

The bottom line: Primaries do make sense in a populist-oriented country like America, but forcing the public to pay when those primaries are closed does not. Fortunately, Californians now face that fundamentally unfair situation only once every four years.

in News
Related Posts

Six Family-Fun Westside Fourth of July Events

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Fireworks, parades, runs and more taking place across the Westside  By Ashley Sloan  Pacific Palisades  The Pacific Palisades will be...

California Credit Union Awards Grant to Santa Monica Teacher

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Building electric circuit friendship detectors and applying engineering principles to solve real world problems are Westside school projects receiving funding...

Santa Monica’s Building Bridges Art Exchange Presents: J.J. Martin’s “Role Models”

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

A traveling exhibit in partnership with Indianilla Cultural Center, Mexico City and Real de Catorce Cultural Center, Real de Catorce,...

Santa Monica City Council Approves New Rules to Streamline Meetings

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

Pilot program will run through end of year By Dolores Quintana At the Santa Monica City Council meeting on June...

Banning Construction of New Gas Stations in Los Angeles?

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

Motion from LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz calls for banning the building of any new gas pumping facilities By Sam...

Child Of Elon Musk Receives Approval For Name And Gender Change: Santa Monica Beat – June 27th, 2022

June 27, 2022

June 27, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* Child Of Elon Musk Receives Approval For Name And Gender Change * Smash...

Pico Boulevard Affordable Housing Project Tops Out

June 27, 2022

June 27, 2022

Brunson Terrance coming to 1819 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica By Dolores Quintana Community Corp. of Santa Monica has completed...

The Los Angeles Real Estate Market May Finally Be Slowing Down

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Real estate sales drop 21 percent in past year By Dolores Quintana The Los Angeles real estate market is showing...

Redevelopment Complete of Former Westside Pavilion Macy’s

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Developer announces complete of West End at Pico and Overland Developer HLW, on behalf of GPI Companies and in partnership...

Mayor Himmelrich’s Tax Transfer Measure Is Favored to Qualify for the November Election

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

In a cursory review, the City Clerk’s office verified 10,277 of the over 11,000 signatures  By Dolores Quintana Santa Monica...

Active Shooter Training Set for Santa Monica Middle School Friday

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Drill to take place at John Adams Middle School Friday morning By Sam Catanzaro ​​An active shooter training will take...

Metro Church and Cafe Fundraising To Keep Space in Santa Monica

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Non-profit church and coffee shop shut down following false vermin complaint By Dolores Quintana Metropolis Santa Monica is a multi-use...

New Coffee Shop Open on Montana Avenue

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Go Get ‘Em Tiger up and running on corner of Montana and 10th  By Dolores Quintana A new coffee shop...

15-Year Department Veteran Selected as Santa Monica’s Next Director of Library Services

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Erica Cuyugan leads Santa Monica Public Library After performing a nationwide search, the City of Santa Monica recently selected Erica...