February 12, 2005

An idea for better elections

In conversation this evening one of my friends mentioned that in New Jersey, where he grew up, they had "crossover" primary elections where people registered in one party could vote in the other party's primary.
My boyfriend replied that the only reason to vote in the other party's primary is to vote against a candidate you don't like.

It got me thinking about the primary system, and how most other countries have such huge lists of names on their ballots. I guess they don't have primaries. I guess they just have a general election and vote on all the candidates for each office. That's what they just did in Iraq. Surely in a place like Italy, with its hundreds of parties, they don't have primaries. Each party probably chooses its candidate or candidates in a small, informal convention, probably without balloons.

Back in America, isn't anyone else curious about how Howard Dean would have done if he had been on the ballot in November? Every election, I have watched my favorite candidates drop out of the race before I even get to vote for them. Iowa and New Hampshire take care of that. How unfair is it that I have to vote for the candidates that they give me. Two states have no business deciding things like that for the rest of us.

Here's my suggestion; don't have primaries. Put eight or ten people on the ballot. Ooh, but what about the Electoral College you may ask. Personally, I'd get rid of that too, but it could work by a simple majority, with electors chosen at meetings by the local parties. Maybe.

Just think how interesting presidential campaigns would become. The debates might be longer, but they'd be more useful, with some of the fringe elements bringing important but unpopular fact to the table. Instead of not being able to tell the Republican from the Democrat, the various branches of the parties would get more exposure. John McCain could run. Competition! Ideas! A real race! You could have a candidate who was pro-life but anti-defense. You could have a candidate who was a fiscal conservative and an environmentalist. You could have a candidate who believes what you believe. You could vote for him or her to be president. How cool would that be?

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