The Top Two Primary is an attempt to limit the ability of voters to have a say in who represents them. It shuts out minor parties and forces voters to choose from just two major party candidates in the fall election.
Oregon has a rich history of “minor” political parties that provide a voice for voters who don’t identify with either of the two major political parties. These parties cover the full spectrum of political opinions. Since the founding of our state, voters have been able to choose from a diverse list of parties and candidates on their General Election ballots.
The Top Two Primary would end that long tradition, replacing it with a system where only two major party candidates would appear on the November ballot. The growing number of voters who don’t identify with either Republicans or Democrats would no longer be able to choose independent voices to represent them.
Our nearest neighbors, California and Washington, have both adopted similar Primary Elections schemes in the past decade. The results have meant that a smaller number of voters are making the decisions for a larger part of our electorate.
Primary Election turnout in both states has fallen. In 2014, four years after adopting the Top Two Primary, California set a record for the lowest Primary turnout in the state’s history. The second lowest was their first Top Two Primary in 2012.
Voters in those two states now have fewer choices. Minor parties have disappeared from the ballot and are now struggling just to remain in existence. Many General Election races in both states feature candidates from just one major party, dramatically limiting the choices available to voters.
The Top Two Primary also opens up the system to mischief by political operatives, like Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” in 2008, where he incited Republicans to vote for the perceived weaker Democratic candidate in the Primary Elections.
Top Two Primary schemes do not increase voter participation in Primary Elections, but they do give dramatically more power to Primary Election voters. The voters that participate in primary elections have the power to limit the candidate choices down to just two per race for the General Election. This means a smaller section of the electorate chooses the candidates for the majority of voters in General Elections. Primary voters under a Top Two scheme have much more power in determining who will be on the November ballot and who, ultimately, will hold office.
By limiting General Election choices to only two candidates, the Top Two Primary will effectively banish minor parties from the November ballot. The increasing number of General Election voters who do not identify with either of the two major parties will no longer be able to choose minor party candidates in the fall election.
Measure 90 is funded almost entirely by a small handful of wealthy individuals and business interests. More than 70% of the funding has come from three wealthy individuals, three large corporations, and one of the largest corporate lobbying groups in the state.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? It should. In 2008, Oregon voters rejected this same flawed proposal by a vote of 66%-34%. It was a bad idea then, and it’s a bad idea now. Visit the NO on 90 website