We won’t know until November if voters in Maine approve the use of ranked choice voting becoming the first state to implement that process state-wide. Whether Maine voters approve Question 5 or not, Nevada could be the first state whose legislators implement such a system when they convene early next year.
FairVote, one of the nation’s leading election reform organizations fully supports this effort and urges the members of the Nevada legislature to introduce and pass this important election reform. It is critical all Nevadanscontact their legislators and candidates for the state legislature to stress the importance of passing this vital piece of legislation. To make it easy to reach legislative leaders, there is a petition on Change.org
Since 2013 there has been a quiet effort to end Nevada’s closed primary system. Rather than using the initiative process, the effort has centered on having the legislature pass needed reforms. The Nevada legislature meets every two years, in odd numbered years, for 120 days. During the 2015 session, just under 1,300 bills were proposed. Of those, 1,100 were introduced, yet just slightly over 750 had at least one committee hearing. Only 59 percent of proposed bills got a hearing. A bill to end closed primaries was one of those.
The bill, titled the Nevada Election Modernization and Reform Act, died following the hearing. Efforts are underway to bring it back in 2017, proposing the state end primaries altogether and switch to a single election in November using ranked choice voting.
During the recently completed primary election, 21 races where only one party had candidates were decided in the primary by less than 15 percent of voters. The winner received support from less than 9 percent of voters. The winners of those closed primaries advance unopposed to the general election, meaning members all other political parties, major and minor, and those registered as Non-Partisan will have no say in who represents them.
The current system is wrong for a state where over 25 percent of voters (35 percent of 18 – 34 year olds) are not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican Party. In a state where primary election turnout is under 20 percent while general election turnout averages 60 percent during non-presidential years and 75 percent during presidential years, a system that capitalizes on the higher turnout rate best serves the residents of Nevada. The Nevada Election Modernization and Reform Act for 2017 (NEMRA - 2017) is such a system. With NEMRA - 2017 in place, Nevada would:
Make the election process simpler for voters, election officials, elected officials, and candidates
Save taxpayers $3–4 million each election cycle by eliminating primary elections
Maintain political parties’ right of association.
Maintain ballot access for minor party and independent candidates
Eliminate strategic voting and the spoiler effect
Maximize voter turnout
Recognize the importance of the growing segment of unaffiliated voters
Reduce extreme partisanship allowing rational campaign and legislative discussion
Further details are available at www.nevadaelectionreform.blogspot.com
This is a guest blog by Douglas Goodman. Mr. Goodman has been involved in politics all his adult life from working campaigns, serving on school advisory councils, city and county committees, and business/city advisory boards. He is currently leading the effort to pass the Nevada Election Modernization and Reform Act.
Image Courtesy: Dave Parker