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Posted at 3:06 PM ET, 06/15/2010

D.C. should vote like California

By washingtonpost.com editors

Back in April, I suggested that the District consider scrapping primaries and adopting a preferential voting system. This would expand the number of voters participating in meaningful elections, and it would enable voters to vote their hearts and their minds. But this month, California voters adopted another system that would accomplish much, if not exactly all, that my proposal would.

Proposition 14 was approved by 54 percent of California voters. Unlike my proposal, California will keep the primaries but essentially convert them into a first round of a runoff election. All voters will be allowed to participate in the primaries, regardless of party affiliation. More revolutionary, all candidates, also regardless of party, compete on one primary ballot. The top two vote-getters, no matter their parties, move on to face each other in the general election.

If this model were imported to the District, it would improve our imperfect system. It would make the general election more competitive, which is desirable since more voters show up on that day than do for primary voting. Moreover, it would enable voters to vote "their hearts" on primary day without fear of "throwing their vote away," while reserving the right to weigh in on the final choice in November. Finally, this model is desirable simply because it is less radical, and thus more likely to be adopted, than my proposal.

Topher Mathews blogs at The Georgetown Metropolitan. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | June 15, 2010; 3:06 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., D.C. politics, DC Vote, HotTopic, Local blog network  
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