Mon 30 Oct 2017 7:36PM

Star Voting and Primaries

SW Sara Wolf Public Seen by 381

One of the best things about STAR Voting is that it's accurate with any number of candidates and so you don't need a primary. Skipping the primary shortens the election season and saves tons of time and money for both the voters/taxpayers and the candidates which in turn can make running more accessible and help to start to level the playing field.

On the other hand there are times you might want a primary and if so it's totally an option. As Stephano asked on the Equal Vote comment section, "Question: Suppose an alternative voting system (like STAR*) does get implemented somewhere. Once people realize the election is no longer a lesser-of-two-evils vote (i.e., single Democrat vs. single Republican) and the field is much more open, a LOT of new contenders might enter the race: nonpartisan candidates, minor-party candidates, multiple candidates from each major party, and so on, none of whom need to survive a primary election to appear on the general ballot.

Voters could be faced with a bewildering multitude of questionable choices; this won’t endear them to the new system, and might even put the new system in danger of repeal. To keep SRV elections manageable for the electorate, should election authorities raise the bar for who appears on the ballot, to filter out all but the most serious, competent, and generally viable?"

So what do you think? Are there situations where we want a primary and if so when and how should that be applied?

*STAR Voting is the new name for Score Runoff Voting, specifically using a 0-5 scale. STAR stands for Score-Then-Automatic-Runoff)


William WAUGH Tue 31 Oct 2017 4:49AM

No need for a primary. A plethora of new candidates is not a problem.


Serena Johnston Tue 31 Oct 2017 3:26PM

A recent exchange with a Dem around closed vs open primaries showed their position out in the open - mainly, Green Party (and other minor parties) can go ahead and choose their candidates in nominating conventions, so they don't "need" a primary. My reply to that is if We The People are paying our taxes to put on a closed primary, many taxpayers are paying for something in which they cannot participate. I agree, no need for a primary, parties can have nominating conventions or put up a plethora of candidates for the same position in a final election. It would save time and money.


Adam Zielinski Wed 1 Nov 2017 12:45AM

I'm definitely against creating a high bar for access to the general election ballot. This would likely freeze out third party and independent candidates, and undermine one of the main reasons for supporting Star Voting in the first place.
But I also think there is a real danger of a lot of voters being turned off by a super long list of candidates for any given election. So that is why I do like primaries, because it is the only democratic way to weed out the also rans and narrow the field down to a more manageable level for voters to focus in on the best candidates.

But the only way to have primaries in a fair way is for every party to run their own primary or nominating convention and then forward one or two candidates each to the general election. Either all party primaries should receive taxpayer financing, or none should. Same with conventions. No separate rules for "major" and "minor" parties. You either qualify as a party or not, and the bar should be set at what the existing rules are now for "minor" parties.


William WAUGH Thu 2 Nov 2017 2:43PM

"I'm ... against creating a high bar for access to the general election ballot. ... "

I join you in standing against such a high bar.

"But I also think there is a real danger of a lot of voters being turned off by a super long list of candidates for any given election."

This can be solved. Permit the voter to mark on the ballot a score to give to "all others". This score would be applied to the candidates the voter didn't specifically score by name. The "all others" entry would save the voter the effort of marking individually the candidates who never drew the voter's interest or notice. I would recommend that voters apply the lowest possible score to "all others", as the category could include a racist.

In our daily lives we are surrounded by noise. Everyone has her own way to go about filtering the inputs. As the filtering techniques apply to other areas of stimulation (e. g. Keeping Up With the Kardashians), they apply to the messages about candidates for office. Voters can find interesting candidates to consider supporting, by multiple methods, including but not limited to using Internet search engines to find candidates who talk about the issues that matter most to the voters, and receiving referrals from trusted like-minded people. There should of course be an official web site listing the candidates who turned in the 100 signatures and including the candidates' own statements of their positions and qualifications.


Clay Shentrup Wed 1 Nov 2017 6:10AM

But there are other ways to constrain the list to something reasonable. You could require the candidates get 100 signatures from the voting public or something. Just a minimal threshold of effort that weeds out unserious options. A primary seems like a pretty heavy-handed solution.


Chris Callan-Hinsvark Fri 3 Nov 2017 3:15AM

I don't think it would be a major problem. However, if you really wanted a primary then I'd say run it just like you would the election, but instead of the run-off choosing just one candidate it would choose a preselected number of the highest scored candidates. Those candidates would then be on the general ballot for election. Raising the bar for candidates would likely cause more concern around a new voting system. Besides, a shorter election season would be a big bonus for a lot of voters.


Sara Wolf Fri 3 Nov 2017 10:02PM

Remember that over 43% of the people don't affiliate with any party. I'd like a system that doesn't exclude them from the primary process. If we don't have a unified, publicly funded, and non-exclusionary STAR Voting primary the parties will do their own, separately, and this will exclude the biggest group of voters by default. The candidates preferred by these voters might run Independent, but they also might run as any number of other parties. In my case I might vote Democrat, Green, Progressive, Independent, Working Families, Libertarian maybe? ... shouldn't I get a vote too, regardless which party they pick?

On the other hand I do see big advantages from eliminating the low turnout primary in most races, when there aren't a ton of candidates.


William WAUGH Sat 4 Nov 2017 11:48PM

"On the other hand there are times you might want a primary..." -- What for?


William WAUGH Sat 4 Nov 2017 11:51PM

If the point of having one or more primaries (open or closed) is to reduce the list to make contemplating it easier for when people are getting ready for the general election, how does it help, given that the people if they are politically interested are still going to have to contemplate the longer list for their primary?


Mark Frohnmayer Sun 5 Nov 2017 6:33PM

"how does it help, given that the people if they are politically interested are still going to have to contemplate the longer list for their primary?"

Hammer, meet head of nail.

After petitioning the Unified Primary in 2014, I became firmly persuaded by the opponents of primary reform that publicly-funded primaries for state and local elections are just a REALLY BAD IDEA:
* Primaries artificially extend the length of the election cycle, which fatigues voters and costs candidates more money (meaning they are more beholden to funders).
* Elections are expensive - running two of them every cycle is a waste of public dollars.
* Primaries turn out a different and less representative electorate than shows up at the general election. This means that the eventual choices we get are filtered by a non-representative sub-population first. As Boss Tweed famously proclaimed, "I don't care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating."
* Primaries were created to give voters the nominee choice in a two-party dominated election system created by plurality voting. STAR Voting doesn't have this defect.
* Talking about changing the primary system now, particularly to a non-partisan open system, will create opposition from political parties who believe the own the concept. If we can divorce non-partisan elections from the primary system by using STAR Voting for such races in the November general election, it will become obvious to the voters that the May election is purely for the benefit of eliminating choices from consideration before the whole populace has a chance to vote.
* The issue of "too many candidates on the ballot" is a non-issue. Portland had 20 mayoral candidates in a top-two style regular election last cycle. The idea that the general election voter needs a pre-filter by the politically savvy is an insult to the general electorate.

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