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

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

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

In contrast, if you view primaries as part of a public runoff process
to limit the number of candidates in the general election, then open
make a bit more sense, but it is also fair to ask, what is the role of
in this context? Why not just have a straight nonpartisan runoff
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
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
matters, what business does government have in running them? In some
the government charges the parties for the cost of running the
My guess is that there is a legitimate government interest in assuring
the integrity of elections that determine candidates put forth by the
for public office. One way to gain such assurance is to have the
itself administer party primaries.

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

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

                Doug Jones
= The content of this message, with the exception of any external
= quotations under fair use, are released to the Public Domain
Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:03 2004

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Aug 31 2004 - 23:17:22 CDT