Kansas City Star Editorial Board: Parties Should Pay for Their Own Primaries, Not Taxpayers

The Kansas City Star is taking on the need for primary election reform in the state. One of the state’s most popular newspapers says if the state is going to continue to have closed primary elections — the private political parties should pay for them.

Political parties are private organizations. As such, they should not be able to demand subsidies from taxpayers to conduct elections that are essentially closed to non-members.

Supporters of the current system say it ensures the purity of the primaries: A closed system means members of one party can’t manipulate the results in the other. Democrats might vote for the weakest candidate in the GOP field, for example.

But that fear is overblown. And preventing unaffiliated voters from casting ballots without declaring a party makes the cure worse than the disease.”

The Kansas City Star references an excerpt from the first detailed policy position independent gubernatorial candidate Greg Orman released on July 12, in which he discusses how the current system is not working for Kansas.

“Major political parties that refuse to allow unaffiliated Kansans to vote in their primaries should reimburse the state and the counties for the costs of supporting their closed primaries,” Orman writes

“He’s exactly right,” states the Kansas City Star.

This is significant for a couple of reasons: (1) A prominent newspaper is coming out on the issue of election reform, and (2) it seems to be in direct response to an independent candidate’s policy positions.

Without an independent in the race, one has to wonder if the topic would have even been brought up at all.

The Kansas City Star says its neighbor, Missouri, has a more preferable system:

“Missouri’s system is not perfect, but it’s preferable. Primary voters can ask for either major party ballot on Election Day and need not declare a party membership. There is no such thing as a “registered” Democrat or Republican in Missouri.

Spending taxpayer dollars for a system in which every registered voter can easily participate is defensible. Spending taxpayer funds to protect the narrow interests of the two major political parties is not.”

You can read the full op-ed here.

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