Does our top-two primary in Washington State give us what we want? We want to vote in an open primary with the right to vote for the person instead of the party. We also want majority rule to give us a representative democracy. Our “top-two primary” satisfies the first wish but not the second.
We now have a problem with our 34th Legislative District Senate primary on Aug. 7. Our current senator, Sharon Nelson, is not running for re-election. Eleven candidates have filed to run for Sharon’s seat: seven Democrats, two Republicans, one Independent and one “no party” candidate.
In 2016 Andrew Pilloud (Republican) received 20.25 percent of the vote to 79.75 percent for Joe Fitzgibbon (Democrat) in the race for 34th District House, Position 2.
In our current senate race, if the two Republicans each receive 10 percent of the vote, the remaining 80 percent will be split among the other nine candidates. This is an average of 8.89 percent for each of those nine candidates (not enough to win if they closely divide the vote). The 34th District — one of the most progressive districts in the state — could put two Republicans in the general election and no Democrats. Is this majority rule democracy?
There are at least three ways to combat the negative effects of this undemocratic plurality “top two” primary.
1) Find two or three Democrats willing to drop out of the race.
2) Ask the 34th District Democrats to endorse no more than two or three Democrats — also ask other progressive organizations to endorse the same Democrats.
3) Work for a future with an open, majority-rule election primary, such as ranked-choice voting (like Maine). With ranked-choice voting, no gaming of the election system is possible, and this aberration could never happen. See FairVote.org.
— Melvin Mackey