WA Primary vs. Caucus

While 230,000+ people participated in Washington state’s Democratic caucus, 661,403 (and counting) participated in the non-binding Democratic primary.

The results were even different — Sanders won the caucus by a large margin, while Clinton is winning the primary. Those results could be explained by several different factors, though, and that’s not my point.

My point is that the caucus system decreases participation, and is therefore less democratic than primaries.

In my state we have mail-in voting, which is more fair and accessible than caucuses or even going to the polls on election day.

Anyone who works or cares for children or adults — or who has other responsibilities that keep them from participating in a caucus — can still vote via mail.

And anyone for whom it’s physically or psychically difficult or impossible to attend a caucus has a much better chance of voting via mail.

As a Democrat, it’s disheartening to see my own party effectively locking out many thousands of people from participating. This goes against my values — and it goes against the values of the Democratic party. (Or so I thought.)

I wrote a note to the Washington State Democrats and argued the above. You can too.

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The other thing people argue about is whether or not primaries should be open — that is, do you have to be a registered Democrat or Republican to be able to vote?

I like Washington’s system: you have to check a box on your primary ballot that you consider yourself a Democrat or Republican. That’s it.

I think it’s absolutely fair that a party would want members of its party to choose their nominee. You don’t want other people to choose your nominee for you.

But at the same time it shouldn’t be onerous to declare that you’re a Democrat or Republican. If you’re not willing to do that much — well, then, that’s a valid choice, but you don’t get to vote.

25 May 2016

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