WA: Duopoly protection plan survives SCOTUS review

From The Seattle Times:

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Tuesday shoved Washington politics into a strange realm where two candidates from the same party could run against each other in the November election. The decision also means minor political parties could largely vanish from the general-election ballot. And it may help more moderate candidates win office.

The situation stems from litigation versus the state’s old “blanket primary” system, which was overturned in 2004 for primaries in which each voter could participate in only one party’s primary. That system, in turn, was sent to the dustbin by a voter referendum re-instituting the “blanket primary” (voters can choose candidates from multiple parties in their primary voting) with a twist: The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, are the only candidates on the general election ballot.

While Washington’s “major” parties disliked the old “blanket” system because of potential crossover effect, they’re probably tickled pink with the new way of doing things. At least twice in the last decade, Libertarian candidates have been credited with affecting the outcome of a major election in the state:

  • In 2000, Republican US Senator Slade Gorton lost to Democratic challenger Maria Cantwell by 2,229 votes, while Libertarian Jeff Jared polled 64,734 votes.

  • In 2004, the gubernatorial contest between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Christine Gregoire hung a first-count margin of less than 100 votes (eventually going to Gregoire by 129 votes on recount) while Libertarian Ruth Bennett polled 63,465.

Under the new system, Washington’s voters likely won’t see any Jeff Jareds or Ruth Bennetts on their general election ballots.

3 Responses to “WA: Duopoly protection plan survives SCOTUS review”

  1. Mike Says:

    “Under the new system, Washington’s voters likely won’t see any Jeff Jareds or Ruth Bennetts on their general election ballots.”

    Or Aaron Dixons or Bruce Guthries or Joe Szwajas…

    This really pisses me off.

    So many terrible choices ahead of me this year. In both my gubernatorial and Congressional elections, I have nothing but crappy choices and was praying for a third party option like a Green or a Libertarian. Now even that was taken away from me.

    Looks like my only third party vote in November will be Ralph Nader for president.

    Looks like I’m going to be writing in “None of the Above” alot.

  2. Phil Says:

    Actually the major parties hate this system. They’re the ones who brought the suit in the first place

  3. Chris Moore Says:

    This system is much better for third parties. It helps relieve “wasted vote” concerns. Also, primaries have much lower turnouts than a general election, which can be to the advantage of a small but organized minor party effort.

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