Re: Move to North Dakota if you really want a secret ballot, or ....

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Thu Aug 05 2004 - 09:37:02 CDT

On Aug 5, 2004, at 7:50 AM, Alan Dechert wrote:

> I contend that revealing your party when you vote in a primary is a
> compromise of the right to a secret ballot.

This depends entirely on what you believe should be the role of the
primary.

Is a primary election primarily a matter of internal party governance,
where
the members of the party select their candidate using secret ballots,
as an
alternative to selecting their candidates through a caucus-convention
model,
or is it something else.

If a primary is essentially an internal matter, then requiring party
membership
for voting in a primary is no different from a corporation limiting the
right
to vote in corporate elections to the shareholders in that corporation.

In contrast, if you view primaries as part of a public runoff process
designed
to limit the number of candidates in the general election, then open
primaries
make a bit more sense, but it is also fair to ask, what is the role of
parties
in this context? Why not just have a straight nonpartisan runoff
election
instead of preserving the fiction of political parties in the primary?

My personal belief is that open primaries bring the entire concept of
political party into question. Imagine if the Sierra Club, for
example, or
General Motors, had to hold their internal governance elections under
the
rules of an open primary where the entire public was entitled to vote
in their
corporate elections.

Another interesting question is, when primary elections are purely
partisan
matters, what business does government have in running them? In some
states,
the government charges the parties for the cost of running the
primaries.
My guess is that there is a legitimate government interest in assuring
that
the integrity of elections that determine candidates put forth by the
parties
for public office. One way to gain such assurance is to have the
government
itself administer party primaries.

There are also economic reasons not to have full duplicate voting
systems,
one for government elections and one for primaries. If you've got
enough
equipment to run the polling places in a general election, there are
good
economic reasons to use that same equipment in primaries and other
elections,
instead of having some other organization run elections in those other
contexts.

(This economic justification fades into meaningless if you use simple
printed
paper ballots with hand counting because, in that case, there are no
capital
costs to amortize over multiple elections.)

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu
>
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:03 2004

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