Top Two Primaries Taken to the Supreme Court AGAIN
Washington State's Top 2 Primary system is being taken to the Supreme Court yet again. The current, incredibly popular system, allows the two candidates with the most votes to proceed to the general election regardless of party preference. If the two most popular candidates in any given district happen to share a party (or are party-less), they still move on to the general election.
The State Democratic and Libertarian parties are requesting the Supreme Court re-open the case because they feel the Top Two system takes away their right to nominate their own candidates. The State Republican party is not participating.
The debate over the Top Two primary system has a pretty rich history. The original system left voters with the choice of either a party-chosen Democrat or Republican. After multiple court hearings and public input sessions, it turned out Washingtonians hated it.
So how'd we get here?
A few legislative sessions, an initiative, Supreme Court hearings, and a governor's veto later, in March of 2008 the Top Two Primary was ruled constitutional. In August of 2008 Washington State held the first Top Two Primary in the country.
“Our system, which is a model for other states, really honors the way Washingtonians want to vote — for the person, not the party label," said Secretary of State Sam Reed. "It really fits our populist, independent streak and allows people to split their ticket, rather than be confined to one party’s candidates. The parties’ challenge of our old blanket-primary led to our Top 2 system, with a very unpopular detour to the Pick-a-Party system that limited our primary choices to a single party’s line of candidates."
“I hope the Supreme Court will decline to take the case, and will acknowledge that we followed the court’s roadmap for how to conduct the primary as a nonpartisan, winnow election that puts the voter in the driver’s seat.”
Voting and competition are an incredibly important part of democracy. Giving voters a choice in who represents them, not which party represents them, creates a better system for us all.