Saturday, November 29, 2008

The First Amendment and Scrapping the Top 2

The new Top 2 election system in the state of Washington violates the freedom of association rights of the political parties. The Top 2 should be scrapped by the state of Washington. The political parties should have the right to determine who appears on the ballot with their label.

With the Top 2, any one can sign up to run as a Democrat, a Republican or a Libertarian. For example, in the 36th State Legislative District, the Democratic Party endorsed John Burbank for State Representative. In addition to Burbank, Reuven Carlyle filed to run as a Democrat. Carlyle used the Democrat label to win the election.

In Pierce County, for county level elections, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) was used. Candidates who wanted to run as Democrats or Republicans were required to obtain an approval from the relevant county party. The Democrats and Republicans each developed their own set of rules concerning who could use their labels. This is consistent with the freedom of association rights of the political parties implied in the First Amendment.

The RCV rules provide a safety valve for candidates who are unable to use the Democrat or Republican labels. Independent and third party candidates have the same ability to get on the ballot as Democrats and Republicans. In the County Executive election, Mike Lonergan tried to run as a Republican, but was unable to get enough votes at the Pierce County Republican Party convention. Lonergan, then, started the Executive Excellence Party and filed to run. Lonergan was on the ballot in November and had a very respectable showing.

The Top 2 rules allow any candidate to use any label. Karl Marx could run as a Republican. George Bush could run as a Democrat. Parties are formed to express particular political points of view. The Top 2 violates their freedom of association rights. The Top 2 should be scrapped in favor of a system which allows political parties to nominate whomever they like.

PS In November, the voters of Oregon rejected a ballot measure to implement the Top 2 by a margin of 34% to 66%.



At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Benjamin Johnstone-Anderson said...


Isn't that a fine argument for essentially eliminating the primary process and letting parties appoint directly? That's probably not a popular idea to float.

Just sayin'.


At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Benjamin Johnstone-Anderson said...

Sorry, but the above comment was meant for another post. It fit this one remarkably well, other than not making any sense.

My apologies. I'll re-post it there.



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