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voting

California's primary election is late in the year, but it's starting to draw close; and this year it includes the presidential candidates. But how to choose among them is a puzzle for me.

I have no thought of asking for the Democratic ballot. Clinton is an authoritarian, corrupt, and a dynastic candidate with an appalling sense of entitlement; on the other hand, Sanders is a socialist, and I don't vote for fascists or socialists.

I'd have to register soon (if it's still possible) to vote in the Republican primary; they don't take independent voters in California. The idea of voting against Trump is not without appeal; see my comment about Sanders. His rival is Cruz, and some of Cruz's positions appeal to me; I'd like to see if he carried through on his proposal to abolish multiple executive departments and agencies. Also, I'd much rather have him appointing the next few Supreme Court justices than any of the other three. On the other hand, Cruz's views on abortion and same-sex marriage are big reasons not to support him, and those are issues I care about. It's also worth keeping in mind that so many Californians will vote in the Republican primary that my vote will fall into the margin of error in any case.

The other option is to ask for the Libertarian primary ballot. That's a party that's a closer fit to my own views; their candidates have meaningful differences; and also, my vote will fall short of significance by a smaller factor, since rather fewer people vote Libertarian. And since I'll probably vote for the Libertarian in November, it makes some difference to me which one it is.

Comments

chuk_g
Apr. 15th, 2016 06:29 pm (UTC)
I'm not an American -- can you not vote in all the primaries?
whswhs
Apr. 15th, 2016 07:13 pm (UTC)
No. Traditionally each political party had its own primary; if you were a registered Green you could play a part in choosing the Green candidate, but not any other, and likewise the other parties. Each party picked its own candidates through a vote of party members, and then put them up against the other parties' picks. Having the support of your party's insiders was a help in getting nominated, but not a sure thing; every so often one party would nominate a strongly ideological candidate who was a favorite of their membership, and then lose the presidential election massively. (Goldwater did this as a Republican, and McGovern and Dukakis both did it as Democrats. It does seem possible that both Cruz and Sanders could have that effect on their parties this year, which would be . . . interesting.)

California has changed the general rules to open primaries: All potential nominees run against each other in June, and the two with the highest vote count have a runoff in November. As a (small-l) libertarian I detest this: Write-in candidates are prohibited in the November vote, which is a direct attack on voter sovereignty.

However, this doesn't apply to the presidential nominations, which are done on a national scale; if California picked two Democrats as top choices the Republicans wouldn't nominate either of them! Instead we have a compromise: A party can either limit its primary vote to party members, or allow nonpartisan voters to ask for its ballots and participate in selecting its candidate. The Republicans do the first; the Democrats and Libertarians do the second. You still only get to ask for one specific party's ballot; you can't take part in choosing candidates for more than one party.

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