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home : insight & opinion : editorials
August 21, 2019

3/3/2004 1:49:00 PM
Daily News Editorial
Primary system is broken

So you wanted to help decide who the Democratic nominee for president would be?

Sorry — you live in Illinois.

With Super Tuesday come and gone and John Kerry crowned as the nominee-in-waiting, voters here have every right to ask themselves, “What’s the point?”

Crawford County’s primary election two weeks from now was in danger of a pathetic turnout, anyway, with no contested local races. About all the local vote will indicate is the relative strength of candidates as they head into the November election — where, at this point, most of them still face no opposition.

And with the results of Tuesday’s primaries in the record books, there’s essentially no reason for Crawford County voters to cast a vote for president March 16.

More and more observers are saying the primary system is broken, but there are few ideas on how to fix it.

Few would want to go back to the days when the national convention and its “smoke-filled rooms” determined who we would vote for. The primary system grew as voters demanded more of a say in the process in the 1960s and 1970s; in 1996, when Bill Clinton ran for re-election, all but 10 states conducted primaries.

But now, with candidates pumping millions of dollars into the sparsely populated states that find themselves at the front end of the process, other states are seriously looking at what it costs to put on a largely meaningless primary. The state of Washington was the latest state to decide not to have a 2004 primary.

What’s the solution? Some officials are backing a regional primary system in which groups of states would rotate the privilege of having the first primaries. Others want a single national primary, or a shorter period in which primaries can be conducted. And some even long for the days of smoke-filled rooms; at least a convention-floor battle has the potential to be less cut-and dried than what we have now.

Go to the polls March 16 — at least to try out the new electronic voting system. But after you vote, let your legislators know you feel shut out of the democratic (and Democratic) process.

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