turn the ballot box into the ultimate opinion poll where a true consensus can be determined
add significance to voting when there is only one candidate for an office
create a primary system open to all voters
make voting fun and exciting again
eliminate mud slinging as a campaign tool
prevent multiple candidate races from thwarting the will of the majority
convert minor party candidates into a benefit to the electoral system
allow retirement of entrenched incumbents before having a viable opponent on the ballot
by Jack Alan Brown Jr
Our process for citizen expression at the polls has been evolving for over two centuries. The result has not been uniform throughout the several states. In many states you may vote "yes" or "no" on initiative and referendum measures and on the question of recalling someone already elected. There is at least one state where you may vote for "none-of-the-above," and more than one state where you may vote "no" on candidates for some or all offices. Currently you will find states with open primaries, closed primaries and some with no primaries at all! Some states have term limits; others do not. Ask the average voter in most states if they have the perfect system, and they will undoubtedly say, "No!" We say, "It is time for a major overhaul of the election system!"
We see disliked, but unopposed, incumbents reelected. We see disliked incumbents replaced by only slightly less disliked challengers. We frequently see disliked incumbents renominated or elected in the Primary Election by the establishment minority because the opposing majority vote is splintered by multiple challengers. We see the General Election vote splintered by minor party candidates who are attempting to satisfy those disenfranchised in the Primary Election. Many people register with a political party even when they disagree with parts of its platform, just so that they can have some say about the choices in the General Election.
What if you could vote "yes" or "no" on each candidate in the Primary Election? What if a candidate receiving more than 50% "no" was thereby barred from office for that term? What if all who received more than 50% "yes" were automatically placed on the General Election ballot? What if anyone else on the General Election ballot could be there only by nominating petition? What if it took a true majority somewhere in the process for anyone to be declared the winner?
I'll tell you what: Disliked Sheriffs whose deputies would never dare challenge them in the Primary would be voted out. Disliked District Attorneys no lawyer would dare challenge in the Primary would be voted out. Disliked Judges no lawyer or lower court judge would dare challenge in the Primary would be voted out. Then sheriff's deputies, attorneys and lower court judges could run for those offices instead of running against their "bosses". And that is just the beginning!
County Commissioners, State Legislators and Governors would not be able to win reelection by divide-and-conquer campaigning. They would have to please the majority. They couldn't alienate several distinct groups, each of which would field challengers in the primary to split their opposition vote. And that's not all, folks!
Regardless of their party affiliation, people could vote in the Primary for all the candidates they thought would do a good job -- or they could reject them all. Even though only one could win, when two good candidates were running for the same job, they could both be affirmed by majorities. Minority groups could show their true feelings without throwing the election to the one they disliked most. Mud slinging would no longer win elections. Candidates could no longer persuade the voters to vote against their opponents by voting for them. They would have to campaign in a positive way if they wanted to win elections. Incumbents would have to run on their records. Their challengers would have to run on a genuine platform. Folks, that is the best part about a YES! vote system!
Let us consider the mechanics of the YES! system. It is simplicity to the core. There are only a few basic, easily understood ingredients: The first ingredient is that each voter will have the opportunity to vote "yes" or "no" on each candidate seeking an office in the Primary Election. The second is that no candidate can be elected to serve in the office they seek, unless they ultimately receive a number of favorable votes equaling more than 50% of those voting. The third is that candidates receiving a number of "no" votes equaling more than 50% of those voting won't be able to serve in that office for that term.
Voters will see the party affiliation of the candidates noted on the Ballot beside their names. Voters will be allowed to write-in the name of a person qualified to serve for each office being voted upon on both the Primary and General Election Ballots. The candidate(s) receiving a majority of "yes" votes in the Primary Election will qualify to be candidate(s) on the General Election Ballot. Only a plurality will be necessary for one of those candidates approved in the Primary to win in the General Election. Each candidate receiving a majority of "no" votes in the Primary Election will be barred from the office for that term.
What if all Primary Election candidates for a given office receive a majority of "no" votes in the Primary Election? Don't worry! There could still be new candidates for that office in the General Election. New candidates can file for placement on the General Election Ballot by circulating nominating petitions. They would need to obtain a number of voters' signatures equal to one-half of one percent of the total number registered in the district at the last primary election date, and a majority vote in the General Election would be necessary for one of these new candidates to win.
If none of the candidates by petition receives a majority in the General Election, there will be a Run-off Election held twenty-eight days following the General Election. The two candidates receiving the highest numbers of votes in the General Election will be on the Ballot in that Run-off Election. The candidate receiving the majority in that election would be declared the winner of the office.
Finally, if no candidate is elected by Ballot, a vacancy would exist. That vacancy would be filled according to the same procedure as when an officeholder dies or is recalled or resigns in the middle of a term of office, except that none of the Primary Election candidates for that office would be eligible for appointment to fill that type of vacancy.
This initiative addresses the problems that people see in our Primary Election system today. Though this is not a moral or fiscal issue, it will have as profound an effect as any initiative ever proposed in this state. The struggle to perfect it for the ballot will be one of the most intense political battles of this era, as the establishment that has manipulated and psychologically gerrymandered the voters into parties and fragmented movements begins to realize that this will destroy its power. Oregonians will again stake out new ground in the continuing saga of perfecting democracy. You can be a part of something as revolutionary as the initiative, referendum and recall by supporting this initiative. This initiative even makes provision for its effortless repeal in the unlikely event that Oregon tries it and doesn't like it.
We in Oregon can take the lead, as we did at the turn of the century on the issues of initiative, referendum, and recall. We can adopt a system that allows the voters to develop a consensus regarding whom they want for public servants. We can adopt a system that will guarantee public servants have the approval of a true majority.
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