Feb 10, 2011

A Debate on the Top Two Primary System: Pro and Con

At The Examiner, Ken Bingenheimer is hosting a debate on the merits of the top two primary system.  Both sides, pro and con, are represented by contributors to TPID, Nancy Hanks and Solomon Kleinsmith.  From The Examiner:

Does Top Two voting make elections more democratic, or is it in fact anti-democratic? Top Two, just so we're clear on the issue, is defined in this manner: "In a Top Two election system all candidates for an office run against each other in the first round of voting. The two candidates with the most votes in the first round are nominated to move on to the final election. In the final election between two candidates, the candidate with the most votes wins."

While a variety of organizations are working for electoral reform that will give more sway to independent voters and voters in the political middle, there are sharp disagreements about Top Two in particular.

We have asked proponents on both sides of this argument to state their cases. On the pro side is Nancy Hanks, who runs The Hankster blog and is affiliated with the Committee for a Unified Independent Party. Speaking for the con side is Solomon Kleinsmith, who operates the Rise of the Center blog.
With today's opening pieces, we begin a series that will follow with two rounds of rebuttal and one wrap-up where the two will discuss their areas of common ground. The debate starts with Nancy . . .


Solomon Kleinsmith said...

Maybe next round Nancy will actually say something about Top Two, instead of dodging with lame red herring distractions and only talking about Open Primaries.

d.eris said...

You make a strong case against top two, Solomon. Let me ask you this: how would your objections/critique change, if at all, if it were a "top three," "top four" or "top five" system, in which the top three, four or five vote-getters in the primary proceeded to the general?

If Richard Winger is reading, I'd also be interested in his response to this question as well, since he is also an outspoken critic of top two.

DLW said...

And wouldn't it work better if voters were given more options than simply their most favorite candidate in the primary?

Or what if it were a statewide election where the finalists are most likely to be from different parties...

Or what if we had an instant runoff version of "top two primary" so that everyone voting in the general election were counted in the first round?

DLW said...

I reply over at the article to Solomon's contention that Top 2 Primary is a travesty.

I think it's only a travesty if folks give up on the system. With targeted strategic voting in both the primary and the general election, it can be easy(er) to fix by pushing for other electoral reforms.