Seth Woolley's Blog

Occasional Musings

Tue Sep 16 21:59:53 2008 -- measure 65 talking points for opb

measure 65 talking points for opb(0)

Turns out I didn't get much time, but Paul Gronke, a Professor at Reed did a good job of countering Phil Keisling.  You can hear me here: http://stream1.opb.org/media/tol/episodes/2008/0916.mp3

I'm on around minute 43.

I'm releasing my prepared notes just in case anybody else could use them.

(35 seconds:)

Measure 65 is a huge and complicated gutting of our current system that has the effect of undemocratically destroying third parties, allowing manipulation through "ringer" candidates, limiting options in the general election, increasing the cost of elections, and relegating endorsements to back-rooms.  A better solution is available in our Constitution: Ranked Choice Voting, or ranking candidates in order of preference to ensure candidates are elected by a TRUE majority of the voters.  Oregonians need MORE choices in a spoiler-free counting method, not fewer choices in spoiler-rich elections caused by encoding our two-party system into law with a "top-two"-only primary system.

(if they don't let me ramble, and cut me off, I might get asked a specific question.  Prepared answers are below.  I might have to go off-script, though, depending on the nature of the specificity.)

(30 seconds:)

There are a dozen reasons why Measure 65 is bad for democracy:

   1.  65 would destroy third parties

   2.  65 limits choice in the general election

   3.  Ringers would be commonplace, spoiling made easy

   4.  65 leads to longer, more expensive campaigns

   5.  Endorsements would be back-room deals

   6.  Ranked choice voting (IRV) is a true majority reform against spoiling

x  7.  Independent candidate nominations can directly be made easier

x  8.  65 supports a "center" party at the cost of all others

x  9.  65 doesn't enable fusion voting

x  10. 65 is not an open-primary

x  11. 65 is funded by big business groups and centrist panderers

x  12. Voter apathy demands more choices, not fewer

(x = additional points to mention if I have time)

             A dozen reasons to oppose Measure 65:

1.  65 would destroy third parties (15 seconds)

Oregon ballot access rules are not the same as Washington.

Measure 65 will destroy third parties by eliminating our ability to get to the general election ballot where we normally get our 1% to maintain ballot access.  After one election cycle, we wouldn't be able to endorse at all.

2.  65 limits choice in the general election (20 seconds)

Measure 65 limits voter choice in the general election, period, regardless of party.  Forcing voters to vote for the lesser of two evils should never be enshrined in our voting system.  In a study of Louisiana and Washington, the only two states that have similar systems, only once out of 1400 races was there an independent candidate promoted to the general election.

3.  Ringers would be commonplace, spoiling made easy (25 seconds)

Under Measure 65, primary elections could become a game of "ringers," with political consultants recruiting candidates just to split the votes of the other parties. Republican consultants could recruit people to register and file as "Democratic" candidates, splitting the Democratic vote. Democrats could recruit phony "Republicans." Both of them could recruit phony "Independents" and phony "Libertarians," further increasing the party identity theft.

4.  65 leads to longer, more expensive campaigns (10 seconds)

Measure 65 will make campaigns longer and thus more expensive, as more campaigning would have to be done in the primary phase.

5.  Endorsements would be back-room deals (10 seconds)

Measure 65 will move political endorsements to a much smaller set of party insiders without state funding of major party nominations. Let's fund all parties and independent primaries instead of this!

6.  Ranked choice voting (IRV) is a true majority reform against spoiling (40 seconds)

Ranking Candidates in order of preference, first, second, and third, etc. was legalized in 1908 in Article II, Section 16 of the Oregon Constitution. Ranked Choice Voting, AKA Instant Runoff Voting or IRV eliminates the spoiler issue, reduces the length of elections to just one election, and actually ensures a majority get to elect candidates.  Measure 65 has none of the benefits of IRV and all the downsides of our current non-majority simple "plurality" voting.  We should enforce our right to rank candidates by preference instead of throwing more money at elections for no democratic benefit.

7.  Independent candidate nominations can directly be made easier (30 seconds)

Measure 65 doesn't solve any primary right to vote problem: All Oregonians have the right to vote in party processes, including primaries, by state law.  However, Non-affiliated voters have a very difficult time getting on the ballot due to my Democratic opponent's championing of HB2614 after the 2004 Nader fiasco in Oregon.  To fix that is very simple -- repeal HB2614 of 2005 and reduce requirements for independents to get on the ballot.

8.  65 supports a "center" party at the cost of all others (20 seconds)

Measure 65 supports centrist candidates who differ only minutely on wedge issues from poll issues -- partisan bickering on a narrow range of debate will continue.  The centrists should instead create their own Republicratic Party rather than effectively banning third parties they disagree with and violating the freedom to associate of the two parties they more closely align.

9.  65 doesn't enable fusion voting (15 seconds)

Measure 65 doesn't enable fusion voting.  Multi-partisan endorsements are legal already.  Multi-partisan nomination will be outlawed under it after as well as before.

10.  65 is not an open-primary (10 seconds)

Measure 65 is NOT an open primary, which is when you get to pick your party ballot when you show up at the polls.

11.  65 is funded by big business groups and centrist panderers (15 seconds)

All of the 20 "for" pamphlet statements for Measure 65 were funded by big business and centrist politicians who favor business interests -- about the only thing both major parties agree on.  There is no grassroots campaign for the measure.

12.  Voter apathy demands more choices, not fewer (10 seconds)

Oregon's growing non-affiliated voters are sick of both parties -- they don't want to be stuck with two candidates who are half-way between two types of corruption.

Appendix:

It seems I get asked every time, "but you might get in the top two." What if we did get in the top two?  It never happens in state-wide races with a top-two system and even if it did, look at District 42 where we're running a Pacific Green against an unopposed Democrat -- or look at Congressional District 4 where there's no Republican, or Congressional District 5 where there's an Independent and a Green versus a Democrat, or Congressional District 2 where there's a really weak Democrat and we've been successful organizing even within Democratic Party rank and file.  We get those kinds of advantages with the current ssytem.  We also get to influence the major candidates by way of spoiler power -- as much as I'd rather not have a system of spoilers, spoling is the only power we have in large races.  We would never be a spoiler issue at the state level, erasing our power there.  We have all the advantages they claim we'll have, but we'll have more with the current system.  Anything that hurts minor parties just because they don't want to create a "center" no-issue party for ceaseless corruption is bad.

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