21st Century Viking: Two candidates, no choices

By Brian LeBlanc, a.k.a., the 21st Century Viking

The 2012 Election is a month away, but part of it is already over. In the August primary, the top two vote-getters for the open 36th Legislative seat were Noel Frame and Gael Tarleton, both Democrats. Under the Top Two Primary rules, this means that 36th District voters will have the “choice” of voting between two members of the same party.

Regardless of whether Tarleton or Frame wins, the open 36th Legislative seat is already in the Democratic win column. But suppose for a moment that I do not want to vote for either candidate. What if I do not want to vote for a Democrat to represent my district due to their performance as the majority party in the Legislature the past two years?

There are two other options currently available on the November ballot -- vote for a write-in candidate or abstain. Otherwise, I am disenfranchised as far as this important race is concerned before the election has even occurred.

When the Top Two primary went into effect in 2008, my main concern was that a small amount of hyper-partisan voters -- i.e., the ones who are willing to vote in an election in mid-August -- were going to perennially decide the candidates on the General Election ballot for everyone else. Given the fact that the 36th seems to lean heavily Democratic, there are going to be a lot more elections like this in the future.

Perhaps you are reading this and don’t think it’s such a bad thing to have to choose between two Democrats on Election Day. If that describes your feelings, let me ask you: what if the shoe was on the other foot? Is it really a good idea to block dissenting voices out of the democratic process and to reinforce the dominance of the two-party system? How will new ideas get introduced into the political process?

The Top Two Primary was found to be constitutional by the Supreme Court and will probably not be going away anytime soon. At the same time, the dissenting voters of extremely partisan districts like the 36th still need to be able to express their opinions or the whole voting process will soon become a joke. I would suggest adding “None of the Above” as a voting option. This would allow voters in races that are faced with choosing between two candidates from the same party -- or a candidate running unopposed -- to finally have a choice. It would also give the elected officials who are used to a free ride ensconced in their “safe” districts to see their true level of support.

If you are upset by your lack of choices in the 36th Legislative race, vote for “None of the Above” this November!

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