Montana Top-Two Bill Loses in Committee

On February 21, the Montana House State Administration Committee tabled HB 436, which would have set up a top-two primary system in that state. Thanks to James Conner for this news. The vote was 16-3. UPDATE: see this story. Thanks to Mike Fellows for that link.


Montana Top-Two Bill Loses in Committee — No Comments


    (you can tell I’m happy about the decision)

    😀 😀 😀

  2. I watched the video and it seems people don’t want to mention the Libertarians as a major party in Montana. This article should mention all the qualified parties instead of saying Republicns, Democrats and third parties. Good job to the MTLP.

  3. Good news for Montana and the USA.

    “Top-two” is evil.
    It violates the rights of voters to choose among all candidates in the general election.
    It violates the freedom of association rights of all people to form parties and run candidates that will appear in the general election.
    It violates the freedom of association rights of those individuals who join together and form parties to choose their own candidates.

    “Top-two” is an attempt to impose a one-party state as in the old USSR.
    By creating a single primary that will force all individuals to participate in the single party or be left out.
    Having a single primary means that the participants will behave as they do in a single party.
    Eventually there will be a de facto one-party system.
    Only one state-controlled party will be allowed to place 2 candidates on the ballot.
    Everyone else is excluded.

    Everyone should oppose “top-two.”

    It’s time to repeal “top-two” – in any form – everywhere it has been passed.

  4. The concern in the article appears to be over the “complexity” of the ballot. But that is the result of other issues:

    (1) Party elections. The State should not be organizing nor paying for election of party officials. They should simply require a political party to be organized such that the members elect the party officials. Montana could provide voters with contact addresses of the party officials so they can find a convention. A political party could qualify by having a minimal number of attendees at a biennial state convention (or conventions choosing delegates to the state convention), such as 200.

    (2) Byzantine scheme to fill vacancies that involves party officials. The system used for Congress is simple, and it works.

    (3) Inclusion of presidential preference primary. In 2012, the Republicans did not use the results of the primary; the Libertarians would not have used it, even if they had a primary. And Montana’s secret affiliation violates the Democratic National Party rules. A June primary in a small state is irrelevant. Let the political parties organize their association with the national parties. If they want to have a primary, let them choose the date and pay for it.

    (4) This would permit the primary to be moved later in the year to August.

    At this point, Top 2 does not require a complex ballot, and the bill would be much shorter.

  5. “At this point, Top 2 does not require a complex ballot, and the bill would be much shorter.”
    – Jim Riley: February 21st, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Of course not, Riley. Why would you need a complex ballot with “top-two?”
    You have no choices – only the two candidates selected by the power elite controlling
    a single party in a one-party, state controlled system as in the old USSR.

    “Here are your ‘top-two’ choices … vote ‘top-two party’ or die, comrade.”

    No thanks, Riley. We want free elections in a free nation.

  6. #6 A short ballot is a good thing?

    I said a short _bill_.

    Short bills are easier to understand.

    Montana has a very complex scheme for filling vacancies in the legislature.
    County commissioners vote on the replacement, and their vote is weighted based
    on the population they represent, and this has to take into account
    that some legislators are elected county-wide, while others are by district, and legislative
    districts overlap parts of commissioner districts. In addition, party committees recommend
    a list of candidates to choose from. Under Top 2, there would no longer be party nominees,
    so all the statute language which identifies the legislator as being the “nominee” of the
    party was replaced with language identifying him as “preferring” a party.

    But what if they simply held an election to fill the vacancy? Montana statutes for filling
    congressional vacancies is much short than that for filling legislative vacancies. If a
    representative had resigned because he had diverted $750,000 in campaign contributions,
    do we really want his party recommending his replacement. They had nominated a crook. Why
    should they get a do over?

    If you don’t have the complex legislative replacement language, then you have no need to
    elect party officials in the primary. Why should the taxpayers fund the private activities
    of political parties. If party officials aren’t being elected on the primary ballot, then
    you don’t have to have a special section on the ballot, where you choose a party.

    Similarly, all the parties ignore the results of the presidential preference primary. Why
    should the taxpayers fund something that the parties ignore – and that Montana can’t mandate
    that they follow? No candidate is going to be campaigning in June in Montana. Even when Obama
    campaigned in 57 States in 2008, he skipped Montana. Drop the presidential primary, and the ballot becomes
    less complex, the Top 2 bill becomes shorter. And the primary can be moved to August, and the filing deadline
    to June.

  7. #6 Sooner or later, someone is going to challenge Montana’s current primary system in court.

    Montana has a very similar system to that was used in Idaho. It was challenged in
    federal court. Idaho lost, and was forced to implement a system of party registration
    where a voter can not vote in a primary, unless he publicly declares his party affiliation.

    Imagine you are a voter who considers yourself independent-minded and pride yourself on
    voting for the person not the party. You vote in the primary and are handed a Republican and
    Democratic ballot. Which do you use?

    Do you vote the Republican ballot because it had presidential candidates. Or do you realize
    that the presidential primary is meaningless. Do you vote in the gubernatorial primary? Do you
    vote in the senatorial primary? No reason to vote for Tester, even if you like him. Or do you
    vote in the open representative race. Maybe you really liked one of the Republican candidates for
    governor, and decided to vote the Republican ballot. How do you vote in the representative race
    if you happen to like one of the Democratic candidates? Do you vote for the Republican you like
    best? Or do you try to give the Democratic candidate a weaker (or weakened) opponent?

    Anything you do is violating the political association rights of Republican and Democratic parties.

  8. During the committee session discussing the bill, two representative admitted
    that there was cross-party voting in the current Montana primary. That was
    precisely the basis that the district court in ‘Idaho Republican Party v Ysursa’
    determined that the Idaho Pick-A-Party primary violated the political association
    rights of the Republican Party.

    In that case the plaintiffs had presented evidence that was supposed to show
    strategic cross-party voting. In fact it showed that voters will often skip
    an uncontested race, even if it is a quite popular The plaintiffs had claimed that
    Democrat raiders would deliberately vote in one race, and then skip the next –
    supposedly because didn’t support a beloved unopposed Republican candidate. In
    other instances, they used incomplete canvass data that had left out some votes.

    The defense had offered polling data that showed there were some persons who
    self-identified as Republican, often because of family and cultural reasons,
    but would usually vote for Democrats in the general election. Because they
    thought of themselves as Republicans, they would vote in Republican primaries.

    On the other hand, there were self-identified independents who would very
    consistently support Republican in the general election. They may have not
    noticed that they picked the Republican 95% of the time, or preferred the cachet
    of voting for the candidate and not the party. If they picked a primary, it
    would be to vote for the candidates that they preferred, who just happened to be
    running in the Republican primary. It was these persons that were supposedly
    interfering with the political association rights of the Republican Party.

    In Idaho, a voter in secret marked his party choice. In Montana, a voter in
    secret selects a party ballot. There is no material difference. In Montana,
    a voter must use a party ballot to vote in non-partisan races. If a voter is
    given a ballot, how likely is it that an independent would limit themselves to
    non-partisan races. Not likely at all. They would do it, and not realize that
    it was “wrong” or not what they were expected to do. Voting a ballot is not
    that different from filling out a form, or taking a multiple-choice test.

  9. Riley, the answer to the cross-over voting problem in MT is to allow parties to close their primaries.

    It is NOT an excuse to elimiate free elections by imposing the USSR-styled “top-two” that you shill for.

  10. #12 How would parties in Montana close their primaries? The voter
    chooses their ballot in secret. Do you want to get rid of the
    secret ballot?

  11. It is quite common for States to have closed primaries along with secret ballots.
    You should know that Riley.

    Ah, but you do know that.
    It’s just that you’re acting as a shill for the soviet styled “top-two” system.
    Mendacity and obfuscation is getting to be a habit with you, Riley.

  12. #14 In Montana, a voter is given a ballot for each party having a primary.
    He takes them into a voting booth, marks one, and deposits it in the ballot
    box. The other ballots are placed in a discard box.

    The political affiliation of the voters remains secret.

  13. @15 Duh, Riley. That’s the problem.

    The solution is to allow the Parties the option to close their primaries to declared
    party members.

    That’s easy.

    There is no justification to adopt the evil, corrupt, “top-two” plan to end free elections
    in America when there is a minor electoral issue. Your plan is like euthanizing a child
    because she has a runny nose.

  14. #16 So someone has to go to the government and record
    their political beliefs before they are permitted to vote?

  15. #17 Many states have registration by party in order to facilitate party primaries.
    They could opt to have the state stay out of the nomination process and allow parties
    to run their own primaries or choose by convention.

    Having the state involved at all in the process by which parties choose their nominees
    is questionable. However, it is much worse to use that as an excuse to end free elections
    in America and create a one-party state as under “top-two” whereby ONLY the single, state
    controlled party is allowed to run candiates. This is like the old Soviet Union. The “top-two”
    scheme and its supporters are attempting to impose this evil scheme on the American people
    to allow a state controlled, power elite to control the entire nomination process, prevent all
    other candidates from appearing on the Real Election ballot – the General Election in November.

    “Top-two” is evil.

    “Top-two” cannot be repaired or justified. It violates the rights of parties and individual candidates and voters.

    “Top-two” must be opposed and abolished wherever it has been adopted.

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