Rating Top Two, and the Candidates for Secretary of State


Vote Novoselic for PCO!!!

I just received my ballot and voters’ information pamphlet for Washington’s primary election on August 19th. I like all of the choices in the primary and I’m glad we moved away from the old system with the party sections on the ballots. Like local non-partisan elections, the top two vote getters in every race will advance to the general election. With the new system, you can really vote your conscience because if your first choice doesn’t get in the Top Two, you get a second choice in November.

I don’t have a problem with a Top Two runoff. My concern is with the association issues of the new system. On the ballot itself, the partisan designation beside the candidates’ name is only the party they prefer. The voters’ pamphlet states: "A candidate’s preference does not imply that the candidate is nominated or endorsed by the party, or that the party approves of or associates with that candidate." In other words - buyer beware! What is the value of a party designation on a ballot when the state claims it might not really represent any association? It’s worthless, which leads me to say that if an actual party nomination is so bad that it cannot appear on the ballot, why don’t we have a non-partisan system and dispense with the partisan charade!

The voters’ pamphlet can come in handy as voters have a closer look at the candidates in their own words. The office of Secretary of State is on the ballot. This position is for the top election official in Washington. Let’s look at the four candidates.

As the guide says, Mark Greene prefers Party of Commons Party. And we find that he’s actually the chair of this party so we can assume there is an actual association - no matter how terrible the supporters of the new Top Two system think that is.

Greene comes out swinging for the Top Two and praises it as egalitarian. Quite the contrary, the Top Two actually preserves an elitist system. In the United States, political contributions are considered free speech. Business groups, trade associations or wealthy individuals can spend all kinds of money on campaign contributions, lobbyists and public relations. On the other hand, a group of like-minded citizens (political party) may not be able to give a dime to a candidate but they could give time and energy. After the group goes through all of the effort to build an organization, The State then permits absolutely anyone to take that groups’ name for use on the public ballot. The Top Two primary dilutes the collective voice of common people, while speech in the form of big money special interests remains mostly untouched.

Marilyn Montgomery prefers the Constitution Party. The party is a growing group of religious conservatives who have left the GOP coalition. Montgomery mentions the 2004 general election. This was where the governor's race became one of the closest in U.S. history. Republican Dino Rossi lost the election by a hair and people are still sore. Montgomery taps into these lingering feelings by promising an end to, in her words, "election fiasco."

I think Washington election officials did pretty well in 2004. There were three recounts - the last one done manually! The super-close election put the whole system under a magnifying glass. Under such scrutiny, you’ll see all of the warts, cracks, and blemishes. Even after the recounts, the election was contested in Chelan Superior Court and the judge upheld the results.

Jason Osgood prefers the Democratic Party. Osgood comes out sneering in the first paragraph by deriding the incumbent Secretary of State, Sam Reed, as a lifelong bureaucrat.

Osgood invokes Ohio and Florida - states synonymous with botched elections. The mention of Florida conjures Katherine Harris, Secretary of State during the controversial 2000 presidential election. Secretary Reed in no Katherine Harris. Reed presided over Washington’s 2004 gubernatorial election with a high level of integrity and even grace! Christine Gregoire is the legitimate governor of Washington, just as the courts have ruled.

Osgood paints Reed as some kind of boss who employs cronies to carry out his nefarious intentions. That’s just sensational malarkey! I’ve had good experience with Sec. Reed’s staff. Washington has a State Elections Panel that holds public hearings regarding voting infrastructure. Election security activists, like other citizens, can testify at these hearings. How is this not transparent and open?

While not perfect - no human endeavor is - Washington voters can trust our elections. And it’s disappointing that Montgomery and Osgood can only throw cheap shots at the incumbent.

I disagree with Sec. Reed on the association aspect of the new Top-Two election, but it’s not up to him, the State Attorney General, or the Washington State Grange to make this right. Regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the law last May, it’s still up to the courts.

I’m voting for Sam Reed and I hope you considering doing the same. With his two terms, Reed has proven himself as a capable administrator and straight up public servant. Let’s stay with someone who’d doing a good job.

Krist Novoselic's column runs every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly.

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