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M. 90 lessens partisanship

Albany Democrat Herald

An initiative on the November ballot, Measure 90, has the potential to take a small but important step toward a government that truly values bipartisanship — and, in the bargain, would enfranchise thousands of Oregon voters who now are shut out of the system.

Measure 90 would replace Democratic and Republican party primaries with a single primary election open to all voters, regardless of party affiliation. That would include the estimated 31 percent of voters who are not registered as Republicans or Democrats. And, as you know if you’re an unaffiliated voter, the primary ballot can be a lonely place.

The top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, would advance to the general election. An open primary would ensure that every voters’ voice would matter. Citizens would no longer be shut out from nominating candidates just because they declined to be identified as either Democrat or Republican.

In theory at least, candidates who wanted to emerge from a primary would be forced to appeal to the broadest possible bloc of voters. No more appeals by candidates to narrow interests, either ultra-conservative or hyper-liberal. No more shifting positions after the primary in order to appeal to a wider section of the electorate, as candidates appeal to the fringes in a primary and then attempt to tack to the center in the general election.

The ultimate result could be fewer partisan divisions in the Legislature and other elected bodies and winning candidates more inclined to search for common ground.