Revolutionary Nonpartisan Primary Elections Proposed in Oregon

Jeff Mapes of OregonLive.com covered the story of Mark Frohnmayer — son of David Frohnmayer, an established member of Oregon politics, law, and academia — pushing for a version of the nonpartisan top-two primary system. It is identical to California and Washington systems, but with a twist; approval voting.

The Oregon initiative would complete the nonpartisan primary’s trek along the West coast. It will need 87,416 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

” – Mark Frohnmayer

The article explained the system and Frohnmayer’s thoughts on partisanship and electoral reform:

[Mark] Frohnmayer, who helped build a successful video game company and now heads a fledgling electric vehicle company, wants to replace the state’s partisan primaries with an “approval voting primary.”

 

Under this system, all of the candidates for a particular office would run against each other in the primary, with the top two finishers advancing to the general.  That system is familiar and has been adopted by both California and Washington.

 

However, under Frohnmayer’s plan, voters wouldn’t be restricted to supporting just one candidate. They would be able to vote for as many as they wanted. The idea is that this would help ensure that a candidate opposed by a majority of voters wouldn’t emerge from a crowded primary with just a weak plurality.

 

“What really inspired me to do this was the federal government shutdown,” said Frohnmayer. He argued that the shutdown was sparked by Tea-Party friendly members of Congress who won office by catering to a relatively narrow base of conservative primary voters.

 

“The primary system we have now effectively disenfranchises a third of the voters right out of the gate,” said Frohnmayer, referring to the third of voters who aren’t registered with either the Democratic or Republican parties.

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at The Oregonian

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