Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Washington state's voter-approved top-two primary system is a winner.
And the courts -- including the U.S. Supreme Court -- have upheld its constitutionality.
The top-two primary calls for the top-two vote getters, regardless of political party, to move on to the November election. This system allows Washingtonians to exercise their independence and cross party lines on ballots without forcing political parties to accept nominees they don't endorse.
It works because this system simply takes the political parties out of the process -- and puts the will of the voters first.
Conservative areas (such as Walla Walla and the rest of Southeastern Washington) often see two Republicans face off in November while more liberal areas have two Democrats on the ballot. Republicans who are center-right and Democrats who are center-left -- folks who in the past were knocked out of contention in primaries controlled by the parties -- have a real chance to be elected today.
Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians have not been happy about Washington's primary process for years. It has always been independent with voters allowed to crisscross the ballot.
That's why they sued to gain control. But instead of giving them control, the Washington State Grange stepped forward with a ballot proposal to kick the parties to the curb and allow the top-two finishers to meet in the final.
The state parties have continued to fight for control.
The most recent suit brought by the state Democratic and Libertarian parties, was rejected this week by the U.S. Supreme Court when it declined to take the case.
The Democrats and Libertarians sued on the grounds the system allows candidates to identify themselves as members of a party even when party officials object. The parties claim this could confuse voters.
Lower courts have already ruled there is no evidence of confusion.
The top-two primary system is crystal clear. The people have won. It's time for the parties to accept it.