Saturday, January 12, 2008

Michigan's primary

Okay, I realize there is no Constitutional guarantee to a primary vote. In fact, there were no presidential primary elections as such in the US until the early 20th century. But I grew up expecting to vote in presidential primaries, and have in fact voted in every presidential primary since I turned 18 years of age.

And this year, I'm feeling
disenfranchised.

You see, this year, MI Republicans and Democrats united to get a law passed to change the date of the MI presidential primary. MI now has an "early" primary -- which violates the rules of both national parties.

I'm not familiar with all of the consequences for the Republicans, but as far as I know, all their candidates are still on the ballot, and they are losing half their delegates to the Republican National Convention.

As for the Democrats:

-- A number of Democratic candidates have withdrawn from the MI primary, including all but one of the major three. (Kucinich tried to withdraw. He is still on the ballot because, get this, he missed the deadline to withdraw.)

-- As things currently stand, none of MI's delegates will be seated at the Democratic National Convention. Ie, MI will have no say in selecting the Democratic presidential candidate.

Well, isn't this all lovely?

What does it actually mean?

The Democratic choices on the MI presidential primary ballot are
Clinton, Dodd, Kucinich, Uncommitted, and Write-In.

-- If you write in a candidate, your vote will not be counted.

-- The MI Democratic Party is urging people to vote "Uncommitted," which would give the MI delegates to the Democratic National Convention the freedom to decide whom they think the Democratic presidential nominee should be.

(The MI Democratic party is insisting they'll "get things resolved" with the national party so that our delegates will be seated. Check out Jack Lessenberry's response to this nonsense. In a number of ways, the man speaks my mind.)

Right now, MI's delegates will not be seated at the convention, and therefore will have no say in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee. So, it looks to me as if it makes no difference which Democratic candidate I vote for in the primary.

However, I do have another option. I could vote for a Republican.

The two states where I've been registered to vote before, Maryland and Pennsylvania, had closed primaries -- you could only vote in the primary of the party with whom you were a registered voter. (This substantially cut down on the number of registered voters who registered as independent: if you wanted to vote in the primary, you registered with one of the parties.)

Michigan has an open primary, meaning you can vote for whomever you please, of whichever party.

This has big implications for this year's presidential primary in MI.

A number of MI voters who are registered Democrats are planning to vote (or have already voted, via absentee ballot) in the Republican primary.

None of the Republican candidates have withdrawn from the MI primary. And right now, the front-runners are Huckabee, Romney, and McCain.

This scares a number of non-Republicans. So, there are MI Democrats (and Greens, and Independents) who are planning to vote for, or have already voted for, John McCain.

Why McCain? As the perceived least reactionary/most reasonable Republican candidate. As a message to both the Democratic and Republican parties. As the only Republican candidate to oppose torture of detainees. To try to keep someone like Huckabee or Romney out of the White House. ("Anybody but ----.") (As a Quaker and a Witch, the torture issue is pretty important to me.)

So, I have a decision to make: to vote in the Democratic primary, or in the Republican primary.

Hmmm.

2 comments:

Amy Jo Garner said...

I'm in Oklahoma and primary elections are only open to those registered either Republican or Democrat. I refuse to do either and so am shut out from the primaries - I've never been able to decide if I should temporarily change my affiliation in presidential election years just so I can vote in the primaries...

Anyway, I'm watching Michigan to see how the Dems settle their dispute with the National party.

sta┼Ťa said...

Hi, Amy Jo! Welcome.

When I lived in MD and PA, there were definitely times when I wanted to register as Independent, but I also wanted to vote in primaries and I wasn't sure what I thought about switching party affiliation to do so. I never solved that dilemma to my satisfaction, either.

Yes, it will be interesting to see what happens with us.

(And to top it off, my family will be living in another state, or possibly Canada or the UK, by the time of the general election. This just adds another layer of surrealism for me...)