The most important fact sparingly reported from the Aug. 16 primary election day was that the only congressional Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection and to make it through their primary were in two states with nonpartisan, open primaries.
California and Washington have “top two” unified, nonpartisan primaries where the top two vote-getters advance to the general election.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming lost her partisan Republican primary by nearly 40 points. She has led on the Jan. 6 insurrection investigation committee. If we want thoughtful, independent representatives at all levels of government, we need an election system that allows officials to vote their conscience and not kowtow to the political extremes, regardless of party. Cheney would almost certainly have advanced to the general election in Wyoming under a nonpartisan primary system because Democrats and independents would have placed her as one of the top vote-getters, along with moderate Republicans.
Alaska used an even better system on Aug. 16 with a unified, nonpartisan primary where the top four vote-getters advance to the general, then ranked-choice voting is used in November.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski moved through the Republican primary and, if it had been closed, could she have? She voted to impeach Trump. Seems to me that, if we want a system that represents all people, including the 80% of Americans in the center, the Alaska model makes sense, regardless of your political leanings.
Does it make sense we have two political parties on polar opposites of the political spectrum, then expect after Election Day for the country to come together? It is not happening. What makes more sense is for all Americans to be on the same team – the voting team – and have all candidates present themselves to voters together. Let all voters vote for all candidates in the primary, then the top vote-getters can move on to the general, where the voters can rank their preferences. The outcome will be a winner who represents more people more of the time versus the current system where the winner generally comes out of a low-turnout partisan primary with little to no competition in the general election and represents only a narrow sliver of voters.
We have more in common than we think, and we need an election system that rewards consensus-building and problem-solving. Alaska and other innovative states are showing New Mexico the way.
Bob Perls is a former N.M. state representative, D-Sandoval County, and president of New Mexico Open Elections. He is a resident of Corrales.