BALTIMORE, MD. - Last week, it was the Albuquerque Journal. This week, it is the Baltimore Sun. It seems election reform is on the mind of a number of editorial boards just weeks before the midterm elections. It must be a sign of the times.
It is getting increasingly harder to ignore the presence of independent voters in the registered voting population and elections -- particularly their exclusion from critical stages of the elections process.
Maryland conducts semi-closed primary elections for statewide and congressional races, meaning the political parties can open primary elections to unaffiliated voters if they want. However, neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party have extended a hand to this growing segment of the electorate -- growing at a faster pace than either major party.
The Baltimore Sun writes:
"Maryland Democrats might have figured that the Trump era would be a boon for them. Maryland Republicans might have expected a registration boost from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s tremendous popularity. But still, more people are saying no to either one. Maryland is by no means at the high end of unaffiliated voter registration — it stands at about 18 percent, compared to about 54 percent for Democrats and 26 percent for Republicans. In several states unaffiliated voters make up a plurality of the electorate (and in Alaska and Massachusetts, a majority).
We may ever get close to that, but there’s clearly some dissatisfaction among voters with the status quo. It seems to us that the parties might want to pause for a moment to consider what to do about that."
The Baltimore Sun recommends:
- Open primaries, allowing voters of any party affiliation (or none) to participate;
- Public campaign financing;
- Ranked choice voting; and
- Nonpartisan redistricting reform.