A voter's dilemma

Today is Election Day. Michigan's primary election, that is.

So, because I live in a left wing city, I feel largely disenfranchised. That's because I have a choice between having a voice in selecting the Republicans candidates who might win the higher offices (and having no say at the local level, because whichever Democrat wins the primary wins in the fall), or else I could vote Democrat to have a say in the Ann Arbor government (and have no say in choosing the Republicans at the state level).

Like this guy, who faces the same problem:

I am a Republican, and I'm usually content with sticking to the GOP primaries. My most enthusiastic vote Tuesday will be for Hoekstra for governor. Our longtime congressman is in a very tight race and will need every West Michigan vote he can get.

But I also live in the 92nd State House district, which is overwhelmingly Democratic. Since that's the hard reality, I would like the opportunity to help pick the Democrat who will represent my district in Lansing. But I can't do that because I'm voting in the Republican primary.

The situation gets really silly when it comes to county offices. I will never understand why candidates for the county board of commissioners have to run on a partisan ballot. The traditional labels -- Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative -- mean nothing at the local level. We simply need intelligent, reasonable people who are willing to work together for the betterment of the community.

Unfortunately, the candidates have to run as Democrats or Republicans. And I happen to live in a county board district where nearly all the candidates, and most of the voters, are Democrats. That means I won't be able to help choose my new county commissioner, since I'm voting in the Republican primary and the candidates are in the Democratic primary

We should seriously consider adopting a new primary system before the 2012 election cycle. My first thought would be opening up the primary, so voters have the right to choose one candidate from each party for any particular office. That would allow voters to help determine the choice they will face in the November general election. What would be so bad about that?

I'm sure it could be argued any number of ways, but Michigan's primary system forces you to choose one party or the other, and if you live in a town ruled by Democrats, you're SOL if you vote Republican. Sure, Republicans can run for local office here, but it's a joke.

Take, for example, the local mayor's race. I have discussed it twice here, and I would like to be able to vote for the opposition candidate Patricia Lesko. Similarly, I might want to vote for Pam Byrnes for State Senate --simply because she is being smeared by her opponent because an ad supporting her was allegedly run by wicked "right wing Republicans."

Progress Michigan today issued a warning to Washtenaw County voters, saying a right-wing group funded by leading Michigan Republicans is behind a series of misleading ads supporting Democrat Pam Byrnes.

The postcards, which laud Byrnes for her "progressive values" and attack opponent Rebekah Warren, were mailed to voters by the Great Lakes Education Project PAC.

Byrnes and Warren, both state representatives who represent different parts of Washtenaw County, are facing off for the 18th District state Senate seat in next Tuesday's Democratic primary, along with Thomas Partridge.

Progress Michigan issued a statement today warning that the Great Lakes Education Project promotes privatizing schools and opposes public education funding. The group is financed by leading Republicans, including Betsy and Dick DeVos and Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser.

I know a smear when I see one, and I'd like to vote for her too. But if I do, I lose the ability to have any say in the Michigan gubernatorial primary.

I don't know what the solution is. Allow cross voting for different candidates in different races? Allow all voters to vote in all primaries? Or perhaps hold local primaries on different dates?

Of course, this dilemma cuts both ways. Democrats who want to influence the GOP races at the state level lose the ability to have a say locally.

MORE: Via Stephen Green, some worrisome news. Not only are the Democrats now trending ahead in the polls, but the Republicans seem to be sitting on their nonexistent laurels.

Americans are sick of the Democrats already, but aren't yet ready to trust the GOP again. And what I'm seeing out of the Washington crowd makes me think that the Republicans are counting almost exclusively on the former and ignoring the latter -- to their own, great peril.
For the last several (national) election cycles now, the Republicans have seemed unable to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

posted by Eric on 08.03.10 at 08:30 AM










Comments

Or possibly the Rs are holding their fire until election season.

Self-imposed Republican moratorium leads to drop in 2011 earmark spending

M. Simon   ·  August 3, 2010 1:13 PM

The situation isn't so bad here in Louisiana, and I'm not even sure how it works. But my idea has been to change my registration to whichever party is in power so I can be counted as a defector when I vote against them.

Sometimes I register as an independent so that both parties know they can't count on me.

It's silly and ineffective, but it gives me a few moments of pleasure occasionally.

Donna B.   ·  August 3, 2010 3:30 PM

If California's experiment with open primaries wins approval in the courts, and succeeds in its declared goal in the 2012 primary, expect other states to try the experiment as well. If it catches on it has the potential to change American politics profoundly.

Alan Kellogg   ·  August 3, 2010 5:44 PM

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