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Question of the day

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

* AP

More than half the states to hold primary elections so far have seen record-low turnouts, according to a nonpartisan survey of voter rolls released Monday. That perhaps is a sign of widespread apathy within both political parties ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Of the almost 123 million voters who were eligible to cast ballots in primaries, only 18 million have done so, and states with same-day voter registration actually saw their turnout rates drop, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate. Despite heavy campaign spending that is poised to make history, 15 of the 25 states that have held statewide primary elections each reported a record low percentage of voters who cast ballots. […]

Nonetheless, Democrats saw a 29 percent decline from 2010’s primaries, the 11th consecutive midterm elections to see a drop in participation.

Republicans posted a 15 percent decline in participation from 2010. But their rate was closer to historical norms after tea party enthusiasm in 2010 led to a turnout spike.

The two parties’ combined participation rate this year is less than half of the most recent high of 32 percent, posted in 1966.

* The Question: Should we abandon traditional partisan primaries and move to an “open” system where the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to November? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


panel management

- Posted by Rich Miller        


58 Comments
  1. - Almost the Weekend - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:19 pm:

    This has worked in Louisiana and California. A R and D state traditionally the past ten years respectively. More importantly will create more moderate candidates and hold politicians responsible in Democratic or Republican strongholds in Illinois.


  2. - Dude - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:19 pm:

    no….political primary voters should have the right to nominate their party candidate. The long, sought after question, is how to effect, or is it affect, voter apathy? I strive to impact that every day


  3. - Tom - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:20 pm:

    There isn’t any data that shows an increase in voter turnout due to a top two primary. It also has been shown, at least yet, to decrease the partisanship in elections.


  4. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:21 pm:

    I voted yes. Let the voters vote the way they want.


  5. - Chris - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    Yes, but combined with some sort of non-partisan redistricting plan, so that the general elections aren’t turned into (effectively) merely partisan run-offs.


  6. - Reality Check - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:25 pm:

    Better idea: Ranked-choice or instant-runoff voting.


  7. - ??? - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    I voted yes. I know lots of people who work in government who won’t vote in partisan primaries, simply because they’re afraid to be identified as a member of the party that is not in power.


  8. - Stones - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    Voted yes. I’ve had a number of people tell me they don’t vote in primaries because they don’t want to declare a party affiliation.


  9. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    Meh. If you want the process to be more inclusive, go to districts that send 5-6 representatives so that more diverse ideology will be included in legislative bodies.


  10. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    It is 2014, not 1966.
    We don’t think we fit either D or R anymore.
    So we don’t participate in primaries.


  11. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:38 pm:

    ==- Almost the Weekend - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:19 pm:==

    The jungle primary has not created more moderate candidates in Louisiana. California just adopted it, so there’s not a body of evidence from there yet.

    A modified primary system that I support is having all candidates from all parties listed, but you can only vote for one candidate in one party. For example, if such a system were in place in our last primary, I could have pulled the trigger for Quinn for governor and Grogan for treasurer, but not for the GOP for governor of the Democratic Party for treasurer.


  12. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:41 pm:

    Yes, an open primary would increase voter turnout, produce better candidates and better politicians. This would be good for our democracy.

    Also, if we don’t do this, why should taxpayers continue to fund the party’s filtering system for candidates. Either move to open primaries (a public good) or have the party’s pay for their own primaries.


  13. - Mason born - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    Precinct that sounds like a better idea.


  14. - CLJ - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    Go back to the true convention method of choosing candidates. Let the parties put thier best candidates forward.


  15. - Southwest Cook - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    Not a fan of California’s system because advancing two candidates to the general seems quite arbitrary. A candidate who gets over 50% in the first round should win, like in Chicago city elections.

    I would prefer instant run-off voting, which should increase moderate winners and condense the primary and general into one election, saving taxpayer money.


  16. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    Not unless we also do something to make the races more competitive for incumbents.

    We should make it easier for candidates and parties to get on the ballot and stay on the ballot.

    Or go to public funding.

    Or try a system where we take the top vote getter from the two “major” parties and pit them against the top vote getter from a pool of the minor parties. Do this for 5 or 10 years. If those other parties can’t build themselves into competitive organizations by then, we move on and try something different.


  17. - West Side the Best Side - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    Voted #3. An open primary in Illinois will lead to the creation of the Rich Party - people who will buy their way into office with lots of high-priced misleading ads directed at “low-information” voters. There should, however, be a nonpartisan part of the ballot for judicial candidates so their names would be able to appear on Democratic, Republican and Non-partisan ballots. There should be at least the pretence of non-political judges. (I do of course realize than the signature requirements passed in Springfield will be almost impossibly high so the voters don’t get no judicial candidates nobody sent.)


  18. - OldSmoky2 - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:48 pm:

    I voted yes. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) had an interesting op-ed in the New York Times a couple days ago supporting the concept and I thought his arguments were pretty good. Plus I agree with Ahoy! that there’s no compelling reason for taxpayers to pick up the tab for the two major parties’ nominating processes. If those parties still want primaries, let them pay for them.


  19. - Illiana - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    Let people vote how they want & don’t allow the state or anyone else to see whether primary voters voted for a Republican or a Democrat.


  20. - Bill White - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    Our primaries also are far too early in the year.

    Ten months after a state rep wins a contested general election in November, the window opens to begin collecting petition signatures for the next primary.


  21. - A guy... - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    Tough one really. Even tougher when the first case being made is that Louisiana is leading the way- whoa! lol.

    One thing other states do is have their primaries and generals much closer together. I’d definitely be for that. It would seem to mitigate some problems we see and take some money out of the system. A September primary and a November general election might be a good thing and help eliminate some voter fatigue and apathy. Right now it’s just too darn long. Plus, too many very long serving lame ducks. When you lose, it’s time to leave. Not a year later.


  22. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    It helped in California. I’d be good with trying it here too. As a partisan I feel comfortable saying we need to get less partisan. But until the system is reformed, no partisan will unilaterally disarm or step back.


  23. - FormerParatrooper - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:03 pm:

    Open primaries would benefit voters like myself who do not identify as part of the party system. I vote for the person and not the party. If I am not in the minority maybe more would participate in primary elections.


  24. - Ken_in_Aurora - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:05 pm:

    I’d much rather see instant runoff.


  25. - Amalia - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:11 pm:

    no. I want people to declare a party preference.


  26. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:19 pm:

    I voted in two primaries, 2008 for Obama and this year I voted for Dillard. If we used an open primary system, I would vote more often. I’m not sure this would reduce voter apathy, though, but believe it would bring out more moderates and independents like me.


  27. - phocion - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    No. Opportunities for primary election mischief-making would increase ten-fold. Twenty-fold with Precinct Captain’s idea.


  28. - ??? - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    Amalia - just curious, why would you want people to declare a party preference? I think discomfort with declaring a preference (or not really identifying with one party over another) is why turnout is so low.


  29. - x ace - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    No - Nomination by declared voters is integral element of Party system


  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    Vanilla Man right on …. I would add beyond ‘ we don’t fit’, is the prevailing thought of those like myself, is “what’s the real difference”? They may go in clean but they come out dirty. They cannot overcome the temptation$, or they got into it in the first place because it can be a real sweet deal


  31. - Tom B. - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    The top two system is not going to make things any better.

    If you want to open up primaries to anyone, I see no reason to opposed, but what people fail to realize here — this means you media — is that the problem is not the people who DO PARTICIPATE, it’s the ones who DON’T.

    But, that would require you to get tough on people who potentially might want to buy a newspaper, which is why it’s not done.

    The middle can settle these fights really easily. But they don’t, which is why the two parties don’t find it necessary to appeal to them anymore. The bases have leverage in primaries, they raise money, and they provide the volunteers and heft of the campaigns necessary to win. Is it shocking that political figures would cater to them?


  32. - Under Further Review - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:31 pm:

    It is not a perfect solution, but I am so tired of nominees who advance on a plurality rather than a majority.


  33. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    I voted no, keep it as it is.

    The problem is that voters have become incredibly lazy and don’t participate in the process. They whine and moan about how things are going yet they can’t bother to actually go vote. Then those same people want term limits put in place because they are too lazy to vote. Participate and stop whining. Otherwise you should shut up. If you can’t bother to participate then don’t whine and moan about things.


  34. - Jerome Horwitz - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:42 pm:

    Yes. I am an independent and refuse to vote in a primary election.


  35. - retirededucator - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    closed primaries are party elections. they should continue to be so. perhaps decrease the number of petition signatures to allow creation of new parties.otherwise, how about the Iowa method of caucuses


  36. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:45 pm:

    Yikes!

    I voted “No - I have a better idea”.

    Ok…

    Primaries:

    Statewides. You must, MUST declare as a statewide candidate your intention for a party nomination.

    There are ballots for Statewides, absolutely no different than now.

    Wrinkle?

    GA, the top 2, no matter “party”, won the open aspect of the Primary and square off in the General.

    All…all candidates for the GA are listed on the party ballots, so you can vote for a Democratic nominee for Governor, be declared a Democrat by ballot choice, but you can vote for a GOP candidate for State Senate, for example.

    This also takes the “win the Primary, win the seat” situation out of the mix, maybe allowing more party turnover(?)

    So, Primaries, must declare to vote Statewide, but all GA on down, top 2 face off in General.

    March Primary - November General.

    It’s not perfect, but a wrinkle.


  37. - Skeptic - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:49 pm:

    YES! Since independent and third-party candidates are effectively closed out of the system, give us independents and third-partiers a voice at the table.


  38. - AC - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    Yes, there are often larger differences within than between the parties on issues I care about. Illinois has a long history of moderate Republicans which means for most people it comes down to the individual, not the party. If I cared about “hot button” issues more the closed primary might make more sense to me.


  39. - Bill White - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    Which system? An open primary before the November general election? Or a run-off if no one gets 50% at the November general election?

    Multi-member districts (Put Back the Cut Back) is probably the most effective way to empower 3rd parties and the like.


  40. - RNUG - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:08 pm:

    Voted yes. It’s obvious the current system isn’t working so we might as well try something different.


  41. - anon. - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:21 pm:

    I voted No. Primaries are for adherents of a party to select that party’s candidate. The non-partisan municipal primary in Chicago merely selects which Democrats are the top two for a run-off. That said, the primaries ar much too early - move them to June.


  42. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    Do we really want people who can’t be bothered to pay attention voting?


  43. - walker - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:34 pm:

    No, with better idea: Move election days to Saturday, and get voting on-line for previous days.

    No, because we would have too many areas with both final candidates from one party, and the voters would not get a clear choice on approaches in the general election by hearing from both parties. Before that, they aren’t paying much attention at all. It might also fracture the parties even more than they are, with internal fights over the big prize. Our party system has served us well for many years, if contrasted to countries who have had multiple ones with constantly shifting alliances.


  44. - Excessively Rabid - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:38 pm:

    I said yes. Don’t remember parties being mentioned in either US or Illinois constitution, and as far as I’m concerned, what’s good for them is not an issue. The current system is not working and something needs to change.


  45. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 5:15 pm:

    Coincidentally, take a gander at the news feed on the side of the browser.

    – Super PAC backing Emanuel raises $350,000 more in just one day —

    And we wonder why someone stuck for decades in a violent Chicago neighborhood, living in poverty with their kids attending terrible schools, may not feel much love for Rahm or “the other guy”?

    They are the dummies who deserve to be looked down upon?

    It is not them who deserve scorn. It is us.

    We, in both parties, who raise $350,000 in a day while multiple generations of the kids we “represent” go to grade schools that don’t even have libraries.


  46. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 5:33 pm:

    no,how can i get that county job by not show the right party vote


  47. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 5:35 pm:

    ==Do we really want people who can’t be bothered to pay attention voting?==

    Who says they’re not paying attention? Maybe they just can’t agree with a strong liberal or conservative candidate. Maybe an open election will prompt candidates to moderate their views to attract more voters. Maybe I’m dreaming such a thing could ever happen.


  48. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 5:40 pm:

    The major change we need in Illinois is more candidates for voters to choose from, not a different primary system. Nearly all state reps run unopposed, or with token opposition. Ballot access is too difficult, the number of signatures required is ridiculous compared to other states.

    Give people something or someone to vote for, and they will vote.

    I believe the majority of Americans hate opted out from voting because the system is corrupt and biased in favor of one party in each local area. True “purple” (neither red nor blue) states or areas are quite rare.

    People are sick of the partisan b.s. that goes on in Washington and helps no one but the elected officials and their lobbyist pals.

    We need something better, but fast-tracking the election of one of the current crop is not the solution.


  49. - walker - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 6:05 pm:

    Rich: when I linked via your re-lettered “take the poll”, my anti-virus programs started blowing bugles, manning the ramparts, and tossing grenades. It took me about thirty minutes to make sure everything questionable was ejected from the premises.


  50. - RNUG - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 7:37 pm:

    On second thought, maybe I should have selected option #3.

    What I would like to see in either an open or closed primary, is an actual choice of “None of the Above”. And if “None of the Above” gets the most votes, then ALL the candidates get ruled invalid and a second 30 - 45 day campaign period permitted for new primary candidates. The results of the second primary would be who gets to run in the general. And in an ideal world, if it is a closed primary, then the cost of the second primary election is borne by the political party(s) who failed to have a candidate selected.


  51. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 9:10 pm:

    No. Why should people who don’t self identify as Ds get to decide who the Ds nominate for something. For all practical purposes that’s the same as abolishing parties, UNLESS the nominees ran with no party labels and the parties could support whoever they wished AFTER the primary. Still seems stupid to me though. Abolishing primaries and having nominating conventions (state and county) fill their party’s slots would be fine with me also. In fact, the more I think about the better I like it.


  52. - Almost the Weekend - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 9:21 pm:

    Precinct Captain..

    In theory I believe my argument would work especially with the gerrymandering has drawn the districts in Illinois. Louisiana and California’s districts in the federal or state level or not as lopsided as Illinois’ after 2010.

    For example, if you live in a Democratic or Republican Stronghold (+20), you have no opposition in the general. That gives you 8 months of no campaigning or working that respective congressional district. If another candidate was from the same party, that candidate would still be forced to work hard for the next 8 months. Campaigns keep candidates on their toes and forces them to work hard for their district 24/7. We know current office holders do not do this.

    In regards to finding more moderate candidates, Democrats or Republicans will have the chance to woo other sides. Something very similar to what Thad Cochran did in Mississippi with African Americans. A Republican voter who lives in Evanston or Chicago, now has a chance to vote for a moderate Democratic candidate, instead of voting for a Republican in the general who does not stand a chance to win.

    This is theory and reality does not always work the same way, but I think in some instances it would.


  53. - Soccertease - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 9:59 pm:

    I said yes. We need to change some things to get our younger voters engaged. None of my 3 children vote (possibly my fault for being cynical working in state govt for 36 years).


  54. - DisengenUIS - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:09 pm:

    No - #3. Proceed to a more Euro-centric election approach by sharply curtailing campaign funds/spending as well as instituting a two-round runoff system of voting where there is no limit to who or what party can be on the first-round ballot.

    A much better method of elections, as far as reducing spoilers and widening the field for more candidates.


  55. - Under Further Review - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:48 pm:

    I wish that Illinois could hold its primary later in the year, but two outside influences are preventing that from happening: 1) presidential nominating politics and 2) the lengthy ballot litigation process in the event of challenges.

    Historically, there were years when Illinois held its nominating primaries in April, June, and, wait for it, September. Chicago always held its mayoral primary in February to discourage voter participation.


  56. - Johnny Justice - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 12:16 am:

    Springfield Ald. Sam Cahnman put advisory referendums on this on ballots in cities and townships all across the State. Every time the vote has been overwhelmingly YES…from 75% to 88.32. Last one was Decatur, 75% in 2012.
    Question was: Shall IL adopt an open primary law, allowing voters to cast a secret ballot in primary elections by eliminating the current requirement that voters publicly declare their political party.
    Problem is most legislators failed to heed voters’ advise. In April 2009 the Senate voted 17-37 to reject SB 1666, Sen. Bomke’s open primary bill.


  57. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 7:48 am:

    No — look at California and Louisiana. The top two ends up being not what the voters want, but which party is the less split in the primary election.

    If Art Moore beats Tom McClintock in the California 4th this fall I may moderate my stance somewhat, but that’s still only one data point — and there are many more with either intraparty races that are opposite to the predominant partisan tilt of the local electorate (this seems to happen a fair bit in California) or situations in which effectively blurring the distinction between general election and primary means that if the majority party is split, the minority party wins (the dynamic in Louisiana).

    Top two only clearly makes sense in non-partisan elections, e.g. for city council.


  58. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 8:24 am:

    Take it from me and my 20 years of experience:

    Until there is public financing and real caps, all other election reform is just window dressing.

    Will open primaries fix things.

    Sure. Like they fixed Chicago.


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        * Gire: Local theaters screening classic horrors
        * Dour 'Men, Women' weaves somber suburban stories

        * Representative Jan Schakowsky Sends Letter...
        * Rep. candidate pushes to uphold marriage b...
        * Reps. Schakowsky and Waxman Introduce Bill...
        * Statement by Representative Jan Schakowsky...
        * FAA Rejects Call For New O'Hare Noise Stud...
        * Representatives Quigley, Duckworth, Schako...
        * Representative Jan Schakowsky Statement on...
        * Representative Jan Schakowsky Statement in...
        * U.S. House Passes Resolution Condemning An...
        * Representative Jan Schakowsky Statement on...

        * 2012 Predictions Revisited: What the Seers......
        * 2012 Predictions Revisited: What the Seers......
        * Illinois gets $19 million for justice prog......
        * Illinois gets $19 million for justice prog......
        * Illinois gets $19 million for justice prog......

        * Governor race focuses on labor, unemployment...
        * Israel On The Outs Over Iran?...

        * Karen Lewis. We can’t think in silos any longer.
        * Family friendly.
        * Ives and Connelly team up for forum on proposed changes to school funding
        * Starkehaus: Ebola is America’s lesson in why truth and integrity matter
        * The Week In Chicago Rock
        * Local Music Notebook: Doing The Jacksons
        * The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #19: Rodgers Playing At Cutler-Like Level
        * The College Football Report: The Fighting Costanzi!
        * Fantasy Fix: Running For Their Lives
        * The Geek Guests On WGN Radio 720 AM Thursday Night


        * Screwed Up
        * Jobs Governor
        * Wake Up
        * Rauner Launches Three New TV Ads
        * Quinn must take lame duck tax vote off the table




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