The candidates for all federal state, and local offices up for election this year have filed to run. The number of candidates for any particular office range from one to 23 (CD 3). Click here for the full list. Of course, all voters will not have a voice in who their choices are in the general election and due to a change made by the 2015 state legislature, over 50 percent of voters will not have any say, even in the general election, in who represents them in six races.
Because primary election participation averages less than 20 percent, approximately seven percent of all voters will decide who the rest of the voters get to choose from in the general election and in the six races mentioned above, decide the winner.
Having our choices made by others then having to “settle” is the nature of not only our current electoral process but our current political environment. Yes, eligible registered voters should actually vote. Yes, a voter could register to vote in either the Republican or Democratic Party to be eligible to vote in the primary.
But the partisan divisiveness and intra-party bickering has driven voters away from not only the parties but from participation. This is the problem. Party membership is not growing. Nearly 30 percent of active registered voters in Nevada are not registered to vote in either the Republican or Democratic Party. Over 20 percent are registered as Non-Partisan. This percentage increases every month. The numbers are 10 percent higher among those 18 to 34 years of age and the growth is occurring not only state-wide but individually in Clark County, Washoe County, the rural counties, among 18 to 34-year olds, among those 55 and over, and in most congressional, state senate, and state assembly districts.
Because of the dwindling number of voters participating in the nomination process, those making the decision for all voters are usually the small, highly partisan, and most vocal party loyalists. Campaigns are largely attack ads and candidates are rewarded with nomination for remaining steadfast in party dogma and holding to an inflexible position, not willing to collaborate and reach consensus with those holding different opinions. Often this position carries over to legislating, maintaining an environment where solutions remain elusive.
During the general election campaign, there may be an attempt to discuss issues and solutions because candidates must appeal to a wider array of voters (this should be the norm not the exception), however, negativity overshadows genuine discussion of the issues as there is no reason to show a willingness to reach consensus with the “other side”. What if this wasn’t the way it needed to be?
What would this election look like if it was conducted according to the Greater Choice – Greater Voice initiative? Imagine:
- Having to vote only once in the general election
- Having a choice among all candidates
- Not having to settle but actually vote your conscience, vote for the candidate you truly prefer without being considered a “spoiler” vote
- Voting not only for your first choice, but your second and third, knowing your vote will still count if your first choice is eliminated, just as we make many choices on any given day
- Candidates debating the issues and possible solutions rather than just attacking their opponent
- Elected officials having to collaborate, work together to reach consensus and solve problems rather than being rewarded for maintaining the hyper-partisan divisiveness
- The state saving $3 – $4 million each election cycle
- All this while maintaining political parties’ first amendment right of association
Think of the election results if all voters could choose their top three candidates in each race from all; 17 running for governor, 15 running for U.S. Senate, 23 running to represent Congressional District 3. What about the state legislature races where there are three, four, five, or six candidates or the local races with similar numbers? Imagine all voters having a real choice.
Doug Goodman is executive director of Nevadans for Election Reform.
This excerpt originally appeared on the Nevadans for Election Reform website. You can read the full blog here.