Let's Do Primaries Right
Thanks to Super Tuesday, the Presidential candidates for the two political parties are now basically chosen. But instead of celebrating the democratic process, most voters are left with an uneasy feeling. People in the 34 states that have yet to vote in primaries feel disenfranchised because their votes don't count anymore. Republicans feel cheated because cross-over Democrats and Independents overwhelmed their choices in several states. And maverick candidates and their independent supporters feel angry because big money and party regulars successfully overwhelmed their messages in other states. It's a mess--and no way to run a democracy in the 21st century.
Here's how to do something about it. The current system of front-loaded primaries makes the nomination process a money game played in a handful of populous states by candidates who cater to party bosses and parochial core constituencies. States race to be among the very first to hold primaries to enhance their own political clout. A better way would be to have four regional primaries staggered over four months, beginning in February. Political parties have the right to choose their own candidates, so Democrats and Republicans would be restricted to their own primaries. But Independents are the fastest-growing voting group in the U.S., and it's time they were included in the nominating process. They should be able to vote in either the GOP or Democratic primaries, and their votes should be counted in selecting delegates.
The process of voting must change as well. It is archaic, and open to control and manipulation by party hacks. The ancient and confusing system discourages voting. Arizona is experimenting with online voting in its Democratic primary. Electronic voting is clearly the wave of the future and should be implemented as speedily as possible.
Accessibility and choice are fundamental tenets of both the Internet and the American political system. They should be allowed to reinforce each other.