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Author Topic: "Odd" primary systems  (Read 4747 times)
Meeker
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« on: March 30, 2008, 02:24:38 am »
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First off, a definition of a "normal" primary for the purpose of the this thread: Candidates file with a government agency, appear on a ballot amongst members of their own party, and then the winner of each primary goes on to the general election. Run-offs are allowed if no one reaches 50%

Which states differ from this, and in what way? A few I could think of off hand (although my details may not be complete or accurate):

Washington: Top-two primary

Minnesota: Seems to rely heavily on conventions to determine nominees

Virginia: More conventions

Texas: Administered by parties and can't occur in a county without a county chairman

South Carolina: Also run by parties


Any more details or any other states?
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ottermax
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2008, 02:06:29 pm »
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I like Washington's "odd" system. No spoilers in the GE.
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Kevinstat
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2008, 07:53:27 pm »
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Louisiana for state elections only now: the "jungle primary" (basically a general election with party designations allowed IIRC, but with multiple candidates of the same party allowed, and a run-off between the top two candidates regardless of party if no candidate receives a majority in the "primary")

California special (non-recall) elections, at least for Congress and the Legislature: old school blanket primary except that there is no second round if a candidate gets a majority of the vote in first round (all candidates of all parties and all Independent candidates run on the same ballot, and the top polling candidates from each party and all Independent candidates advance to a runoff if no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast for all candidates; since they're special elections, you're not likely to have special primary elections where a voter could vote for a Democrat for Senator, Republican for Governor, Communist for Coroner - my main Political Science professor at UMaine Farmington loved saying that and mimicking a coroner saying in an attempted Russian accent something like "this man died due to the stresses of the capitalist system" - and I'm not sure if two special elections at the same time covering an overlapping area would use one ballot or two in that overlapping area.)

All elected offices in Nebraska except (as far as I know only) President/Vice President, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, Attorney General, State Treasurer and the Public Service Commission - most notably Nebraska's nonpartisan unicameral Legislature: nonpartisan "Top-2x" primary it seems, where voters vote for x candidates, x candidates to be elected, and the top 2x candidates advance to the general election.  x is 1 for the Legislature and most offices for which this primary is used, but 2 for some positions on public power districts and 3 or 4 for some other offices, although I couldn't find any primaries for those as they only seem to be held when needed for a lot of those offices and you're not likely to find more than 6 or 8 candidates for such minor positions.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2008, 05:43:35 pm by Kevinstat »Logged
jimrtex
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2008, 09:14:03 pm »
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First off, a definition of a "normal" primary for the purpose of the this thread: Candidates file with a government agency, appear on a ballot amongst members of their own party, and then the winner of each primary goes on to the general election.  Run-offs are allowed if no one reaches 50%

Which states differ from this, and in what way? A few I could think of off hand (although my details may not be complete or accurate):

Washington: Top-two primary

Minnesota: Seems to rely heavily on conventions to determine nominees

Virginia: More conventions

Texas: Administered by parties and can't occur in a county without a county chairman

South Carolina: Also run by parties

Any more details or any other states?
An important distinction is who may vote in primary elections.

There are:

Open primaries: Voters may choose a primary on election day.

Closed primaries: Only voters registered with a party may vote in its primary.

Semi-closed: Only voters registered with a party, plus unaffiliated voters may vote in its primary.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a State party may have a semi-closed primary even if this contradicts State law and the State is conducting the primary.  That is, a party may open its primary to non-affiliated voters.  But the Supreme Court has also ruled that a party may not open their primary to registrants of other parties.

In some States, unaffiliated voters may register with a party on election day, blurring the distinction between semi-closed and closed.  In some States, voters may also switch party registration on election day.

Some States do not have party registration which means their primaries are open.  In some of these States, voters choose their party in secret and there is no public record of which party's primary a voter voted in.  In other States, a voter chooses his party, and there is a public record of the activity, but this is not binding on elections in future years.

States also have different procedures for being placed on the primary ballot, on how minor parties are handled, and how independent candidates are handled.

While it is true that in Texas, primaries are administered by the parties, they do so according to State law, so that the difference is generally superficial from both the perspective of voters and candidates.  It is worthy of a footnote, not a classification distinction.  
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rbt48
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2008, 02:20:29 pm »
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More on Nebraska (since I live here).  County offices are partisan as well as the state offices.  A plurality is sufficient to win nomination in the primary.  Partisan primaries are closed to registered party members.  A fluke in non-partisan primaries (state legislature, city offices, others), the top 2 (actually 2x, as noted above advance to the general election, even if it is a 90 to 10 split; they still both advance.   Another fluke of this system is after narrowing a non-partisan race down to two, they still allow write-in votes in the general election.  Go figure!
« Last Edit: April 03, 2008, 12:30:01 pm by rbt48 »Logged

Kevinstat
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2008, 06:01:41 pm »
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Does each county in Nebraska have its own board of elections?  I'm sure the big cities do and the town clerks might take care of municipal elections as in Maine, but in Maine federal, state and county offices are all on the same ballot.  Thanks for the information rbt48.
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2008, 06:34:09 pm »
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The Nebraska system is also what Minnesota does for its non-partisan local offices. Minneapolis should start using IRV in 2009 if some hurdles are cleared though.
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2008, 10:11:57 pm »
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The Supreme Court has ruled that a State party may have a semi-closed primary even if this contradicts State law and the State is conducting the primary. ... But the Supreme Court has also ruled that a party may not open their primary to registrants of other parties.

Even if state law allows a party to open its primary to registrants of other parties (as Maine's does, although what constitutes the party in making the decision to send the required notice to do that isn't clear)?  Also, has the Supreme Court ruled that no voter can vote in more than one party's primary in the same primary election?  That is also allowed in Maine if voters of a certain voter class were allowed by more than two parties to vote in their primary, although I'm only aware of one party allowing non-party members to vote in their primary, and then only unenrolled voters (the Libertarians in 1992, after getting ballot access through the consent of a 1990 gubernatorial candidate - who hadn't run as a Libertarian although he described himself as such - who had received more than the required 5% of the vote to allow a new party to form without having to collect a bunch of signatures; Maine's election law was later amended to require that a party "organizing about a candidate" who got 5% or more for Governor or President use the same political designation as the candidate whose 5% allowed them to gain official ballot status, and to ban "Independent" just by itself as a designation for a political party).

In some States, unaffiliated voters may register with a party on election day, blurring the distinction between semi-closed and closed.

Maine is one of those states, and voters of other parties need to only to file an application to change enrollment (in practice a new voter registration card where you check off your new desired party and rewrite all the other required information) 15 days before a primary or municipal caucus in order to participate, although candidates for a party's nomination who were previously enrolled in another party have to have filed an application to change enrollement prior to January 1st of the election year.
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rbt48
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2008, 12:39:47 pm »
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Does each county in Nebraska have its own board of elections?  I'm sure the big cities do and the town clerks might take care of municipal elections as in Maine, but in Maine federal, state and county offices are all on the same ballot.  Thanks for the information rbt48.

Answer:  In Nebraska, each county has an election commissioner.  The governor appoints the commissioner for a four year term.  Also, a deputy commissioner is governor appointed and must be a member of the other major party.

A funny (well, not to him) thing happened in 2006.  Many Democrats registered as Republicans just to vote in the Heinemann - Osborne gubernatorial primary.  Then, they planned to switch back.  The Douglas County (Omaha) Deputy Election Commissioner did this leaving both he and the Commissioner as Republicans.  When word of this surfaced, he was fired (they had no choice) and replaced.  Poor guy was left unemployed, but perhaps wiser.

Now, to address the thrust of the question, the election commissioner is responsible for any election within that county (county-wide, city, school district, and others).  He/she designs the ballots, ensures the votes are counted, handles absentee/early voting, and oversees recounts, mandatory when the margin is >0.5%, I think.  The Secretary of State carries these functions out for statewide or multi-county elections, and for state senate races.
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muon2
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2008, 09:26:50 pm »
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IL provides that if no one runs in the primary from an established party, the county party leaders can slate a candidate to fill the ballot vacancy. Many candidates run this way, particularly against incumbents.
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2008, 10:06:03 pm »
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IL provides that if no one runs in the primary from an established party, the county party leaders can slate a candidate to fill the ballot vacancy. Many candidates run this way, particularly against incumbents.

Do the different county leaders in a multi-county district have to agree? Can different county leaders choose a different candidate?
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jimrtex
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2008, 12:11:21 am »
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The Supreme Court has ruled that a State party may have a semi-closed primary even if this contradicts State law and the State is conducting the primary. ... But the Supreme Court has also ruled that a party may not open their primary to registrants of other parties.
Even if state law allows a party to open its primary to registrants of other parties (as Maine's does, although what constitutes the party in making the decision to send the required notice to do that isn't clear)?
In Tashjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut 479 US 208 (1986)  The Supreme Court ruled that that the GOP could open up their primaries to independent voters, which was contrary to State law.  In Connecticut, candidates are placed on the primary ballot by convention.  The party in effect wanted to allow non-affiliated voters - who might be critical for party success in the general election - to be able to vote in the primary.  The SCOTUS ruled that the party had the right to expand its political association to include voters who may share the same political interests, though not formally registered members of the party.

An issue brought up in dissent was who should be permitted to determine whether the primary electorate was expanded or not - the state convention or the registered voters of the party.   After all most voters who had joined the "R" or "D" clubs, probably did so simply to be able to vote for the nominees of the "R" or "D" clubs, so why should the party convention be able to dilute their influence.

In Clingman v Beaver 544 U.S. 581 (2005), the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma sought to expand the Tashjian ruling, by permitting registered members of other parties to vote in their primary.  In Oklahoma, it is a party option whether or not non-affiliated voters participate in their primary.  The Libertarian Party had sought to exercise this option to include registered Republicans, Democrats, and Reform members.

The decision does not address the issue of what would happen if State law gave the discretion to the parties to invite registered members of other parties.  It ruled that Oklahoma's laws did not impose a severe burden on the political association rights of the Libertartian Party nor registered Republicans or Democrats who might wish to vote for Libertarian Party nominees, and that Oklahoma had legitimate interests in doing so.

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Also, has the Supreme Court ruled that no voter can vote in more than one party's primary in the same primary election?  That is also allowed in Maine if voters of a certain voter class were allowed by more than two parties to vote in their primary, although I'm only aware of one party allowing non-party members to vote in their primary, and then only unenrolled voters (the Libertarians in 1992, after getting ballot access through the consent of a 1990 gubernatorial candidate - who hadn't run as a Libertarian although he described himself as such - who had received more than the required 5% of the vote to allow a new party to form without having to collect a bunch of signatures; Maine's election law was later amended to require that a party "organizing about a candidate" who got 5% or more for Governor or President use the same political designation as the candidate whose 5% allowed them to gain official ballot status, and to ban "Independent" just by itself as a designation for a political party).
I don't know about voting in more than one primary.  I'm pretty sure that they would uphold a State law that prohibited the practice - they have upheld at least some minimal regulations with regard to switching registration before an election.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2008, 12:14:07 am »
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IL provides that if no one runs in the primary from an established party, the county party leaders can slate a candidate to fill the ballot vacancy. Many candidates run this way, particularly against incumbents.
Which is almost the exact opposite of Texas, where the only time the parties can choose candidates is if there are no party nominees for that office, or if their original nominee had been disqualified or died.
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2008, 01:12:36 am »
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IL provides that if no one runs in the primary from an established party, the county party leaders can slate a candidate to fill the ballot vacancy. Many candidates run this way, particularly against incumbents.

Has any such candidate ever won?
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2008, 01:14:28 am »
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This if possible is going to be my 2009 mayoral ballot:

1-Me
2-Drinking buddy
3-Drinking buddy
4-Drinking buddy
5-Drinking buddy
6-Drinking buddy
7-Stripper
8-Stripper
9-Stripper
10-Local band member
11-Diablo Cody (even though she doesn't live here anymore)
12-Stripper
13-Stripper
14-Stripper
15-A random homeless guy who I'll give money to if he tells me his name
16-My actual choice out of actual candidates.

Unfortunately those spoilsports probably won't allow unlimited write-ins. Sad
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muon2
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2008, 05:52:41 am »
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IL provides that if no one runs in the primary from an established party, the county party leaders can slate a candidate to fill the ballot vacancy. Many candidates run this way, particularly against incumbents.

Do the different county leaders in a multi-county district have to agree? Can different county leaders choose a different candidate?

The county leaders have a weighted vote based on the number of ballots for their party taken in the most recent primary in that district. The form to slate the candidate must be signed by leaders with over half the weighted vote.


Has any such candidate ever won?

About 30 to 50 candidates go on the ballot this way for state legislative and congressional seats each cycle. None have won this decade. I don't have data for older races, nor for county board races.
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