Our old “bedsheet” primary ballots were not perfect, but they stood the test of generations, and they were kind of fun. Anything seemed possible. The more standard “straightjacket” primary ballots forced upon us were just not Washington, no matter how common they were around the rest of America.
However, the “top two” primary system we have now is a disaster waiting to happen. Actually, it has already happened. We just haven’t thought about it yet.
One of our major political parties was almost denied a place in the general election when Phil Bakke came within a whisker of being the third place candidate in our primary for District 1 County Commissioner. No sophomoric intellectualism can justify excluding one of our major parties from the November election. This would have been equally true if Helen Price Johnson, the Democratic candidate, had been kept off the November ballot, because other Democrat candidates had cut the pie too thin for her to place first or second.
At the same time, justice has been denied to Curt Gordon, the no-party candidate for District 1 County Commissioner. How can minority parties (even if they call themselves no-party) become major parties if only two “finalists” are allowed in the general election?
This disaster may be too small to register on everyone’s political Richter scale, though it probably seems pretty significant to Mr. Gordon, but just wait. When this happens higher up on the ticket, there will be a major wailing and gnashing of teeth, and we will rue the time we are wasting by not correcting the problem right now.
Neither fairness nor practicality are being served by our current primary election ballot.