1. Opinion piece in the Montgomery Advertiser advocates adopting a nonpartisan, top-two open primary system in Alabama.
"Even more importantly, however, this eliminates the unfair choices that some voters have to make under the current system. Because they can only vote in one party's primary, voters are sometimes forced to choose between voting in a local race contested in one primary or a district or statewide race contested in the other primary."
Alabama currently has an open partisan primary system, which allows voters to select between a Republican and Democratic ballot. As the author points out, this can create a situation in, say, a solid red state like Alabama with urban areas that tend to lean blue, where voters are forced to choose between local and state races. The primary election essentially controls voter choice, but urban Republican and non-Democratic voters who place a higher priority on state races are denied their right to have an equal voice in local races that may not be contested by Republicans, but have more than one Democrat vying for the elected position.
2. Albuquerque Journal calls on the New Mexico Legislature to level the playing field for independent voters.
"New Mexico remains one of 11 states that cling to closed primaries, disenfranchising “Decline to State” voters even though Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution states “all elections shall be free and equal.” Almost 40 percent of the New Mexico’s youngest voters, the future of the state, register as DTS and in doing so are relegated to the sidelines during primaries, when many races are decided. Giving DTSs the chance to vote in one party primary or the other won’t cripple the party system."
As the number of voters not affiliated with either major party continues to grow, the voices calling for election reform are getting louder and louder.
3. A federal judge in California has ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional ... but don't stop reading there.
"Carney, in a case brought by a death row inmate against the warden of San Quentin state prison, called the death penalty an empty promise that violates the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment."
The mistake many people are making is just reading the headline of an article that says the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional, but the punishment itself was not ruled unconstitutional. What the federal court ruled on Wednesday is that because the appeals process can last decades, many death row inmates end up dying in prison of natural causes before their sentence can be carried out and therefore the sentence becomes arbitrary and serves no purpose.
4. New York Times' The Upshot discusses the biggest electoral consequences of dividing California into 6 states.
"Three of the six proposed states — North California, Silicon Valley and West California — would be solidly Democratic. The other three states — Jefferson, Central California and South California — would all be fairly competitive in presidential elections. Each of these three states would have been closer than battlegrounds like Virginia or Colorado were in the last presidential election."
It is unlikely that a majority of voters will support the initiative. Even if the initiative could break the 50 percent threshold with November voters, that doesn't mean the state will be divided into six states. It would still need approval for the California Legislature and Congress. Still, these things are still fun to look at and speculate.
5. Techies are throwing their financial support behind a Super PAC created to reduce the influence of money in politics.
"As with all FEC filings, donors to Mayday must name their employers. Self-employed donors make up the biggest bulk of those who gave money -- $252,410 in total -- while Schooner Capital, TED, LinkedIn and PayPal make up the largest employers thanks to the significant individual donations. Interestingly, those who said they were “not employed” managed to round up $191,587."
The Mayday Super PAC, a project of Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, launched on May 1. The purpose of the Super PAC is to secure enough lawmakers to pass effective campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of special interest money. The irony won't escape most, but Lessig believes the campaign will be effective and it is getting a lot of support.
What news stories have you been following?