Thursday, August 19, 2010

How About an Open Primary System for Oklahoma?

In yesterday's live chat with the Mary Fallin campaign, and in my personal interview with Mary Fallin last Thursday, I was asking about the thought of changing Oklahoma's primary system from a closed primary system to an open primary system.

The response was essentially that they don't think the system in place is broken and they have no plans to try to change it.

The fact is, they don't think it is broken is because it is working for their particular party quite well. They are partisan politicians and would rather stick with the status quo than make changes in the primary system and that would actually benefit the voters, instead of the candidates.

Here is some background for those of you that don't know what I'm talking about.

Oklahoma currently has a closed primary system. What that means is that when you go to register to vote, you have to selected a party. Republican, Democrat, or Independent.

If you choose Republican, you can only vote in the Republican primary for Republican candidates. If you choose Democrat, you can only vote in the Democratic primary for Democratic candidates. If you choose Independent, you are screwed, you can't vote in either primary for any of the candidates.

So what if you are a Republican, and like one of the Democratic candidates? Or what if you're a Democrat that likes one of the Republican candidates? Too bad, you have to vote in the primary that you have chosen.

And what if you are an Independent? Oh well, you'll have to wait until the general election and vote for one of the two people that you have no choice in selecting whether or not they were in the general election to begin with.

Besides Oklahoma, there are 25 other states that have a close primary system. They are:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

In California, West Virgina and Utah, however, only the Republican primaries are closed. The Democrats also allow unaffiliated voters to participate in their primary. And in Rhode Island, if you register as Independent you can vote in the primary of the party of your choice.

On the flip side, in an open primary system, such as the one they have in Washington state, when you go to register to vote, you are not asked what party you wish to register with. You just register.

So when it is primary time, you vote on the candidate that you prefer, regardless of their party affiliation, or non-affiliation as the case might be.

Once the votes are counted, the two people that got the most votes in the primary, go on to the general election. So in theory, you could end up with 2 people that prefer the Republican party in the general election, or 2 Democrats, or even 2 Independent candidates (although I seriously doubt the later will happen any time soon).

I am, as if you can't already tell, in favor of the open primary system. I am going to start a campaign to change the primary system in Oklahoma from a closed one to an open one. Once the general election is over with and the state legislators have been decided, I will start with an e-mail and letter bomb campaign to the state legislators to find out which of our elected officials would support this type of change. If I don't get much response, I will continue e-mailing and then start with the phone calls. I will be heard and I will fight for this.

Of course, I get the feeling that my efforts will be futile. The closed primary system as it stands, as I said, works way to well for the Republican and Democratic parties in our state right now and neither of those parties will be willing to give up the power that it gives them. So for every e-mail or phone I make to a legislator, the parties will make 2 or 3 to oppose my efforts. However, anything worth doing is not easy so I'll keep doing it either until we can change the system...or I realize that it is a completely dead effort.

If any of my readers would like to talk more about this, or would like to help me out with getting this changed, just shoot me an e-mail at and we can discuss it.

1 comment:

  1. The Otter Limits: How About an Open Primary System for Oklahoma?:

    Pundant comment: Great Idea...wait untill the democrats are back in control and we will support it.