Columnist for Idaho’s Biggest Newspaper Advocates that Idaho Use a Top-Two System

Rocky Barker, the environmental reporter for the Idaho Statesman (the daily newspaper for Boise) has this column, advocating that Idaho switch to a top-two system. Thanks to Mike Fellows for the link.


Columnist for Idaho’s Biggest Newspaper Advocates that Idaho Use a Top-Two System — 12 Comments

  1. The Top Two would allow the Republicans to control even more of Idaho over the Democrats. Even conservative Democrats in the north panhandle are losing out to Republicans.

  2. In 2014, 18 of 35 senate seats had only a single major party candidate. In another 8 districts a major party candidate received over 65% of the vote.

    In 3/4 of Idaho, there as no right to vote unless you were in the government registry of political beliefs.

  3. Why don’t you include minor party and independent candidates in your sentence about the 2014 election? You seem to be implying that minor party and independent candidates being on the ballot means nothing to voter choice. Is that an accurate paraphrase of what you are saying, that votes cast for non-major party members are meaningless?

    The right to vote means different things to different voters. Many, if not most, voters derive the most satisfaction from voting for the candidate who best represents their view. They may not follow through on the most satisfying course, because of concerns about helping their least-favored candidate. Instant Runoff Voting and proportional representation solve that problem, yet you never advocate for either of them.

  4. Idaho elects one senator and two representatives from each legislative district. The representatives are elected by position (same system as is used in Washington).

    LD-1 the senate race featured a Republican-Constitution race, while the two house races were Republican-Democrat races. The Republican candidate received about 65% of the vote in all three races.

    It is pretty unlikely that the voters who voted for the losing candidate were expressing support for their views.

    There were about 6450 votes cast in the Republican primary, 750 in the Democratic primary, and 40 in the Constitution primary. Under the Top 2 Open Primary, voters would have been free to vote for a minor party candidate in the primary, and then choose between the two leading candidates in the general election.


    The Republican senator was unopposed in both primary and general election. One Republican house member easily defeated a Democrat 65% to 35%. That race was decided in a contested Republican primary. The other Republican representative was unopposed in the general election, but the primary was contested.


    The legislators were effectively chosen in the Republican primary.


    The legislators were chosen in the Republican primary.


    One house race had a possible spoiler independent. Under Top 2 Open Primary, voters would have been free to vote for him, and if he was unsuccessful vote for another candidate.


    Races were uncontested in primary.

    Would you like me to continue?

  5. The purpose of an election is to choose government officials.

    While it may be true that some voters participate in elections for other reasons (social, express a viewpoint, etc.), we should not forget the purpose of the election.

  6. Elections have many purposes. An election campaign is the vehicle for a national conversation about what government policies should be. Candidates and their supporters, and activists from various causes, communicate with the public and hope that the public hears them. The public communicates back, via talk radio, letters to the editor, using electronic media, and finally voting.

  7. These are not purposes of an election.

    Some persons may participate in political campaigns for social reasons, such as an alternative to bar-hopping. But there is no reason that the government should facilitate such activity.

    When you are acting as an election clerk, if you were to engage in a conversation about what government policies should be, you would be committing a crime. Presumably part of your duties would be to prevent voters from engaging in such conversation.

  8. People who have a background in social science, political science, sociology, psychology, for almost 200 years, have agreed that any healthy society requires individuals to participate in voluntary associations. DeTocqueville popularized this idea and said the success of the United States was the vigorous participation by Americans in groups of all kinds, including groups designed to influence government policy. You should look into this vast body of knowledge.

    I hope I don’t sound patronizing. My education steeped me in this field of learning.

    What is the “purpose” of elections in China, North Korea, and North Vietnam?

  9. Top 2 in no way prevents individuals from participating in voluntary political association.

    Under the system of partisan nomination you appear to favor, voters are coerced into political association. system where a voter must register their political beliefs with the government, can hardly be considered voluntary association.

    I believe that you said you were present for oral arguments at Foster v Love. If not, you can listen on Oyez. Remember when the lawyer for Love noted that the Louisiana Open Primary system was like that used in 1872 when Congress imposed the uniform congressional election date.

    The Top 2 Open Primary is like the electoral system that DeTocqueville observed.

    Before the Top 2 Open Primary came to California, imagine you wanted to support a particular candidate, but who happened to be affiliated with a different party than your own.

    You could participate in voluntary political association by:
    (1) Making a contribution;
    (2) Displaying yard signs, window signs, or bumper stickers;
    (3) Writing letters to the editor supporting the candidacy;
    (4) Advocating for the candidate with your friends and coworkers.
    (5) Block Walking.
    (6) Voting for them.

    Which of these is not true?

  10. I have spent most of my life observing political parties. I live in California, a state with top-two. I am talking about what top-two does in reality. You are not in touch with reality, or if you are, you are not demonstrating that with your mechanical comments. Yes, I was in the audience for Foster v Love, and I read all the briefs, and I talked to the attorney for Love after the hearing.

    What are your political goals? Mine are to enhance the participation of regular people who want to improve government and society. You live in a state that is run by the Republican Party, which has a legislature that seems to love gerrymandering, love putting obstacles for poor voters to be able to vote at the polls, which outlaws participation by voter registration volunteers who don’t live in Texas, which has very difficult ballot access. Yet you seem quite content with the way things are in Texas. You never comment on the inability of ex-felons in some states to vote, of the inability of citizens who live in D.C. and the territories to have representation in congress, on the problem that the person who comes in 2nd in the presidential popular vote can still take the office. You don’t seem to be a person who cares about voting rights at all. You seem to just have one desire, to defend top-two, period. Maybe it’s just a communications problem.

  11. Top 2 made ballot access for independent candidates easier in California.

    It should have made it easier for candidates of minor parties to appear on the ballot. But California had an incompetent SOS, who was term-limited, and tried to jump to Congress. It appears that there is an active effort to sabotage Top 2 in California by retaining rules for political parties.

  12. I really don’t think it will make any practical difference in Idaho given the current political alignments what system they use. This issue is not one that I care about either way, and I’m sure most voters agree with me.

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