Friday, July 08, 2011

End taxpayer funded primary elections now

You don't often hear complaints in Kentucky about public financing of political party primary elections, despite the millions of dollars in costs each year directly associated with them. That's largely because most people don't think about it, but also because most voters belong to one of the two major parties and would consider themselves beneficiaries of the status quo, if they thought of it at all.

That's no reason to keep doing it. Democrats and Republicans in Frankfort have combined to rig ballot access laws to protect their duopoly. And most of them would be just as happy to continue socializing their candidate selection costs as well. This setup has benefited the Republican Party in adding additional voices to public policy debates in a Kentucky once totally dominated by Democrats, but any analysis of the nearly unanimous voting in favor of recently passed, disastrously constructed state budgets suggests further action is needed to end suppression of more voices in the state.

Political duopoly isn't working in Kentucky and we can help improve the situation quickly by improving ballot access laws to remove the artificial benefits enshrined in statute for the sole purpose of boosting the major parties. Then we can stop making independently registered voters pay for political primaries. It's not just a matter of fairness for those left out of the process in May. It will very likely lead to better public engagement on the issues and better choices for all of us in November.