Measure 65: Open Primary

OPB | Sept. 16, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:44 p.m.

Should Oregon adopt a top-two primary system?

Washington State stepped back to a rejiggered version of its past on August 19th by having an open primary. For years, Washingtonians could vote in primaries regardless of party affiliation. The top vote-getters in the major parties, along with any minor-party candidates who received at least one percent of the vote, would all move to the general election. Under Washington’s new system, the primary is open once again; anyone can vote for any candidate. But only the top two vote-getters can proceed to the general election. (Thanks to Dan Meeks for this correction.)

Now voters in Oregon are being asked to consider Washington’s new system. It’s Initiative #65 and it will be on the November ballot. The initiative is the brainchild of Phil Keisling, who was Oregon’s secretary of state from 1991 to 1999. He argues that giving people more choice in the primary will ensure everyone can always vote for the person they think is best for the job, regardless of the letters in parentheses after his or her name.

But both the Democratic and Republican parties oppose the initiative. And they’ve been joined by minor parties, who fear they’ll be wiped right out of the political process becasuse they likely won’t make it to the November ballot.

During the primary election, how often are you faced with a ballot that doesn’t include your preferred candidate? Do you support Republican or Democratic primaries specifically because you know you belong to that party above and beyond anything else? Or are you happy with the election process just as it is?

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