Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Michigan and Florida, Oh My!

What is it about Iowa and New Hampshire that they feel they have the right to be the first in the nation to vote in the presidential primary season? What makes them special?

I know I'm just one of many to say this, but I figure why not add my voice? I've heard two arguments -- tradition and "they take their role seriously." I think that's ridiculous. The tradition is only in their minds and I can tell you for a fact that the rest of the country takes it just as seriously as the people in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Washington Democratic caucuses were filled with serious voters. In my precinct, there were ten times as my voters as four years earlier, when Kerry had already locked up the nomination. I've heard this same comment repeated all over -- when voters in any state, not just Iowa and New Hampshire, have a chance to have their voice heard, they step up. Everybody in the country should have that chance.

And by what stroke of genius did the Democratic party decide to disenfranchise the voters in Michigan and Florida, two must-win states with a combined 44 electoral votes. And for what? To protect Ohio and New Hampshire with their combined 11 electoral votes? Now the Democrats are scrambling trying to fix it so that Michigan and Florida voters will get their voice heard after all, because they don't want disgusted voters to stay home in November. Wouldn't it have been better (and cheaper) to get it right the first time?

I'm not sure what the best alternative is. Maybe it's a national primary system. Maybe it's a rotating system from election-to-election. Maybe there's another imaginative solution. What I do know is that this way isn't fair and doesn't work.

I have a simple proposal for next time around. Every state just needs to pass this simple law:

The State of ___________ will hold its Presidential primaries on the Tuesday at least seven days immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election, whichever is earlier.
That wording, by the way, isn't accidental -- it's taken from what New Hampshire uses. Pass it in just one state and you have what computer scientists call a race condition, with each state racing to be first. In a computer, the system shuts down, forcing a reboot. That's what we need here too.


stephen matlock said...

Why not just let NH be first, but declare all its delegates will not be seated at the convention unless they modify their rules? That would solve the problem.

Same with Iowa.

The rule could be, any state can set their election to any date, but any state that games the system with a law like NH loses all its delegates. Even California wouldn't be exempt.