Measure 65

Jeff Alworth

Title:  Changes general election nomination processes for major/minor party, independent candidates for most partisan offices
Sponsor: Phil Keisling
Type: Statutory
What it Does: After an open primary, where all voters receive the same ballot, the two top vote-getting candidates compete against each other in the general election regardless of party affiliation.
What it Costs: Marginal increases associated with computer, publishing, and mailing costs.

Since this is easily the most-discussed measure on BlueOregon over the past six months, I'm going to give the nickel explanation and link to further info.  The way it works is this: during the primary, every voter receives the same ballot regardless of their party registration.  Voters select from among the range of candidates from all parties.  The top two vote-getters then compete in the general election, again regardless of their party registration.

Here's the fascinating thing about this initiative: it has very strong progressive support on both sides.  Phil Keisling, the former Democratic secretary of state, is the author, and he's supported by John Kitzhaber, Earl Blumenauer, Ben Cannon and others.  Those opposing it include Barbara Roberts, our own Paul Gronke, and the Democratic and Green Parties. Ready for the even more fascinating thing?  Everyone seems to agree that elections should be more open, less partisan, and less party-dominated.  And for this reason half of them oppose the measure and half support it.

To hear some very nice commentary, Willamette Week has a video of Phil Keisling's debate with Barbara Roberts, while the City Club has an audio file of Keisling debating Gronke.

I'll admit I'm mystified.  My main reason for opposing the measure is because it appears to seriously screw third parties.  Under our current system, if you're a minor party, you have the right to put your candidate on the ballot.  Minor party candidates may not win elections, but they drive the major parties to consider their issues.  And in any case, the right of ballot access is a principle I support. But both the major parties also support oppose this measure, which suggests that they think its passage would weaken them--something I also support.  So go figure.  Truth is, the results of the experiment can't be known until we run it, so all arguments are speculative.  That alone is a persuasive argument to give it a shot.  Happy voting--

Other Coverage
BlueOregon: Kari Chisholm, Mark Abrams
Yes on 65
No on 65

  • LT (unverified)

    Jeff, as someone who has voted for an Oregon third party candidate, has been registered at one time or another in both parties, and who remembers less partisanship when Phil and Norma were in the legislature, I don't see how this "hurts" 3rd parties other than depriving them of a line on the November ballot. It also doesn't require counties to have to print ballots for pct. person elections if there is only one person filed. Sure, that ends write-in campaigns for pct. person, but is that really a big issue?

    And since people here love hypotheticals, here's one I thought of after hearing the news this morning.

    We may have a lot of candidates for Gov. in 2 years. What do we want that primary to be like--a debate over ideas, or a clash of personalities? Search Blue Oregon on the 2006 Gov. primary and you will find pages of results, including this gem.

    I went to a local county party meeting where Hill answered every question asked and then a Kulongoski representative spoke and said "The Governor is doing what Oregonians want done". Obviously that won't happen in an open seat election, but the condescending attitude might happen. Exactly how was the re-elect Ted for Gov. campaign helped by Ted's "I'm running against 2 Republicans" (Saxton and Westlund)crack? Why is that level of partisanship helpful to the state, and did it really win over any people registered outside major parties? Or was it just a fit of pique?

    Imagine if Kulongoski and Saxton had been under Measure 65 and had needed to speak to members of all or no party during the primary. Might we have had more discussion of issues? And might there have been a 3rd party candidate in the general election because Saxton sounded so brainless?

    I've heard DeFazio and Walden and Gordon Smith may all decide they are tired of DC (assuming Smith isn't retired this year as we all hope) and decide to run for Gov. Suppose legislators incl. Frank Morse, former St. Rep. Max Williams, and a few others decide to run, along with a few curent/former statewide office holders and maybe even former Gov. Kitzhaber.

    I think the 2006 Gov. campaign was largely lacking in issue debates and the 2002 election wasn't much better. (I heard people say in 2002 that they knew Ted and Kevin well enough from their years in Salem that they didn't need to pay attention to the campaign, they already knew which one they considered fit to be Gov. and which one wasn't.)

    I think this is a "change vs. more of the same" debate. If people like the current system, they should vote no on 65. I think the current system is very much out of whack, and it is time to allow those people who don't see it as their civic duty to be partisans to have the right to vote on nominees.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    My main reason for opposing the measure is because it appears to seriously screw third parties.

    Yeah. It's unusual in that it appears to screw third parties, major parties, and the electoral process in general, all at once. I really don't understand why Kitzhaber and Blumenauer support it. Never once have I thought "Let's make Oregon's electoral process more like Louisiana's." If we're going to change this process (and we should!) there are much better alternatives. How about regular open primaries? How about approval voting or ranked-preference voting?

  • Jeremy Rogers (unverified)

    Jeff thanks for posting on this measure. I am a supporter.

    I justed wanted to note that your point was well made but there is a typo that might confuse folks

    "But both the major parties also support this measure, which suggests that they think its passage would weaken them--something I also support."

  • (Show?)

    Joel you can certainly put any of those ideas in front of folks. All you need to do is raise the $350,000 you need to put the measure on the ballot or convince 16 out of 30 in the Senate and 31 out of 60 in the house, plus leadership in both chambers to make it happen.

    The train that is coming into the station is the Measure 65, the Open Primary.

    Contrary to what some partisans would have us believe, this measure is NOT the same thing as the Louisiana Primary, which does not require a top-two.

    The Louisiana system is much more similar to the non-partisan elections that we already have in Oregon in many county and local elections.

    I haven't seen too many David Dukes elected in Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, or any of the other Oregon counties that have this system in place, have you?

    Congressman Blumenauer and Governor Kitzhaber can speak for themselves, but most of the people I know who support the measure want to give every Oregonian a say in determining who will be on the General Election ballot in November, and would like to see competitive races in more districts than we currently have today.

    This measure accomplishes both of those goals.

    I won't rehash the argument for why Jeff gets it dead wrong when he suggests that this measure hurts 3rd parties.

  • (Show?)

    I justed wanted to note that your point was well made but there is a typo that might confuse folks

    Jeremy, thanks--that was a rather important blunder, wasn't it? I have corrected it in the post.

  • (Show?)

    Has anyone adequately explained how this would work in Presidential elections?

  • (Show?)

    Nate, yes I think that is adequately explained: it wouldn't. Presidential elections are explicitly excluded from the system. There's no change for Presedential elections.

  • Barbara Dudley (unverified)

    Minor parties are not of one mind on Measure 65. The Independent Party and the Working Families Party have stayed neutral because they are supportive of fusion voting which allows minor parties to cross nominate major party candidates or to run their own candidates. Measure 65 makes cross endorsement possible in both the primary and general elections.

    Most people are not paying attention to that part of Measure 65 which allows cross endorsement, in both the Primary and General elections, but it is what makes this approach unique to Oregon and far more interesting than Washington State's new primary system.

    Measure 65 will not destroy minor parties; to the contrary it will give them a chance to have an actual impact. Minor parties will be able to compete in the primaries, which, in a predominantly Democrat or Republican District (that would be the majority of Oregon Districts) they would actually have a chance of having serious debates in the Primary contests and could easily have a candidate in the General Election.

    All parties, major or minor, will have to have a minimum number of registrants (approximately 10,000) to remain qualified as a party, but this will be much easier to do if voters know that they can be registered Working Families Party and still vote in the primary. To learn more see:

  • Joel H (unverified)

    Sal, that's very droll, but there has been an enormous amount of research into voting systems. Why are we trying something no one's ever heard of?

  • David from Eugene (unverified)

    Aside from not being the solution for polarization problem or the minor party problem that it is being offered to solve. There are two problems with this Measure, the first it takes candidate selection out of the hands of the voters and returns it to the smoke filled back rooms.

    I realize that this may be counter intuitive so I will explain, for a political party to have a chance at winning a race it absolutely must have at least one candidate in the general election, if you are not in the race you cannot win. The best way for a major party to insure it has a candidate in the general election is to only have single candidate in the primary and put all the resources available to the part behind that candidate. The political terrain in Oregon is such that in an open primary as proposed by Measure 65 that by running just one viable candidate and actively backing him or her a major party will get a position on the general election ballot. A major party does this by selecting a party candidate before the primary, actively discouraging any challengers from within the party and heavily sanctioning any party members and their supporters who run anyway. You discourage by denying access to donor and volunteer lists and not providing a party endorsement. You actively sanction by tossing the candidate out of the party and going to court to insure that the party designation is not attached to the candidates name on the ballot, any party member supporting him is removed leadership positions in the party and possibly party membership. It short you return to the days of smoke filled room and machine politics.

    The second problem is money. Currently, in most legislative races either the primary or the general election is a high money race but not both. Under Measure 65 to win in the primary a candidate and his party will need to spend as much in that election as is currently spent in a general election and he will still need that level of donor support for the General Election. Which means that like the Presidential election Oregon will have a pre-primary fund raising race which will be more important then the primary.

    For those that are interested in seeing what a political race will look like under Measure 65 take a look at C&E reports for the race for Eugene Mayor and the race for the North Eugene Lane County Commissioners race. Mind you these are nonpartisan races so there is no official party support for any of the candidates

  • (Show?)

    I don't like this measure - but I like seeing Jeremy on TV! I know, stupid comment. Just wanted to give Jeremy a shout out.

  • KC Hanson (unverified)

    "But both the major parties also support this measure, which suggests that they think its passage would weaken them--something I also support."

    Again to clarify, as Jeremy noted as a typo, both major parties oppose the measure; they don't support it.

    While "party-busting" might gain some popular attraction, and the image of the iconoclast lefty boldly standing on principle is appealing, the reality is that this measure hurts minor parties AND hurts progressives within the Democratic Party.

    I chose to be a Dem not to be a "system player," but because I believe its necessary for progressives to be active within the structure of the Democratic Party, as well as outside of it.

    The original working title for this measure was the "open" primary, but in essence it closes primaries. More voters may able to participate, but they will have less choices... in most cases. There will be more pressure than ever from moneyed interests and from major parties to limit the entrants in the primary contests. In most races, the party favorite will be decided before the primary and others will be strongly discouraged from running.

    So, in essence, the measure may or may not weaken parties, but it will certainly make them nastier, more influenced by money, and less open to the grassroots participant.

  • kc (unverified)

    M65 would not apply to Presidential elections - to answer the question above.

  • Dave Lister (unverified)

    I think debate is healthy and nothing provides more lively debate than the two party system. Did you ever tune in to watch the British Parliament? If this measure is enacted I think, in many cases, we will end up with a popularity contest between two D's or two R's (depending on the district).

  • (Show?)

    KC, that quote has been fixed in the post.

  • (Show?)

    My main reason for opposing the measure is because it appears to seriously screw third parties.

    Well, Jeff, then you're really going to be interested in my post coming up in a few hours. Doing some final fact-checking and editing, and then I'll be addressing exactly that question.

  • (Show?)

    I honestly don't understand this part of the post, Jeff: Truth is, the results of the experiment can't be known until we run it, so all arguments are speculative. That alone is a persuasive argument to give it a shot.

    I heard Phil Keisling make this argument, which is essentially, "Let's try it and see what happens."

    Is this how you want people to evaluate a proposed measures? Is this how legislators should consider proposed legislation?

    Jack Bogdanski claims M59 will force the legislature to rework our tax code. he thinks M56 will allow the CoP to squander tax monies. Sizemore says M58 will improve bilingual education.

    Should we give them a whirl and see what happens?

    There are other states and countries that use this system. We know the impact on turnout. We can measure if Independents are really moderates

    I think it is incumbent upon every proponent and opponent to consider every piece of evidence they can.

    Phil accuses me of playing "what if" games. He dismisses other states with claims or Oregon's uniqueness.

    What else can we do any measure--not just this measure-- is proposed? Instead of asking "what if," should we just pray?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    I agree with paul g. on that point. There are an infinite number of possible pieces of legislation. Shall we try them all instead of speculating that most are bad ideas?

  • David from Eugene (unverified)


    Why would a party ever want more then one candidate in a primary? That is a loosing strategy. Assuming that the candidate is viable and the voters registered as party members support their party’s candidate any party with 33.3% or more of the registered voters in a district will get a place on the General Election ballot if there is only one candidate. Put three candidates on the primary ballot and it is likely they will have none.

  • (Show?)

    ""But both the major parties also support this measure, which suggests that they think its passage would weaken them--something I also support.""

    Or they believe it unfairly eviscerates their right to choose who they want to represent them, in a direct and open election. Measure 65, by definition, would prevent Democrats from being able to choose the Democrat they would like to see in office. (And Republicans from choosing their Republican.) It's like narrowing your choices for a new car down to the Insight and the Prius--but everyone else forces you to choose between the Hummer and the Denali, so fuck you and your desire for an energy efficient car.

    As someone who has been a registered Democrat for about 2 months of his life, I recognized that I was powerless to help determine the best Democrat to run our state. When it became important enough to me to select one over the other, I became a Democrat. Now the primary's over, and I'm safely back in the loving arms of the WFP.

  • (Show?)

    (Copied from the other M65 Thread)

    Sal Peralta,

    I thought this debate was about ideas, not about personal attacks. Phil Keisling and I have engaged in a number of public debates, and in no case have we ended with anything but the greatest respect for one another.

    Sadly, you seem unable to be so restrained.

    You have made a public accusation which you should document or publicly retract.

    Your wrote: Some people will choose to trust the chair of a political science department who has used his position in a partisan way -- for example to keep certain candidates from speaking at Reed College. Others will trust people like Victor Atiyeh, John Kitzhaber, Earl Blumenauer, Norma Paulus, Frank Morse, Vicki Berger, and others who have built successful political careers by working in a bi-partisan fashion.

    I am not the chair of the Reed College political science department. I was chair from 2002-2006.

    I am very proud of my record in bringing a variety of political speakers, of various political persuasions, to Reed's campus. We have brought internationally known speakers without any consideration of their political or ideological leanings. We do not fund visits by political candidates, but instead focus on scholars and policy makers who can inform the community and stimulate intellectual debate and discussion.

    The claim that I have used my position in a partisan way, to keep certain candidates from speaking on campus is ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT MERIT.

    Sal, document this claim or retract it now.

  • bird (unverified)

    Why would would anyone want to limit it to 2 parties? That seems unconstitutional, and grossly unfair. Don't most people vote only for the lesser of two evils now? Has it not always been so? I don't understand how a progressive would want to sponsor such legislation at all. What happens if there are health issues?

    Even if this is for a primary to resolve the top two candidates within a party being on the subsequent ballot, it causes major flares to go off that don't sit right with democracy.

  • Jeremy Rogers (unverified)

    One important thing that folks seem to be ignoring is the fact that around 2/3 of legislative districts in Oregon are not competitive. In these districts whoever wins the primary wins the general.

    We all know this--when we take trips with the Bus Project, we only go to those districts that are competitive and there is only a handful of them, yet representatives are running every two years.

    That means that most of the folks who head to Salem are being sent by only their primary voters.

    How can you argue that Measure 65 does not address partisanship? Filling a building in Salem full of Ds who have only been talking to their base and Rs who have only been talking to their base is the best way I can think of to create polarization and partisanship.

    65 forces candidates in every district to always have a conversation with all of their voters. Thats a great thing if we are trying to help legislators reach common ground, even on the most basic things, in Salem.

  • (Show?)


    I welcome you to consider non-partisan redistricting commissions, which will address the problem of gerrymandered districts. They are what causes non-competitive general elections, not the primaries.

    Please keep in mind that the strategic imperative in a top two primary is NOT to win more than 50%--this is the fundamental difference with a non-partisan race.

    The candidate is not forced at all to have a conversation with all of their voters. In fact, historical evidence indicates just the opposite. In a multicandidate race, candidates appeal to a strongly committed, intense core of supporters to move on to the general.

    In a five candidate race, around 20% will move you on. In an eight candidate race, 15% will move you on. And so on.

  • (Show?)

    Paul, what shape of district would you propose that might invite a competitive D/R race east of the Cascades? or in East Portland? Gerrymandering is a problem, to be sure, but people always seem to forget that there is no "right" way to draw up districts. But all that aside, the principle of drawing districts in ways that guarantees competitive elections just doesn't sit right with me.

    Your next statements strike me as pretty bizarre. In the Portland mayoral race, there were, I believe 13 candidates -- but 10% or even 20% most definitely was not enough to finish in the top two. On the other end of the extreme, how common do you think it will be to have 5-candidate state House races? Sure, it happens, but it's not exactly common.

    The point is not to guarantee communication with a broad base, but to structure the system in a way so that there's at least some incentive to do so. Right now, there is no winning strategy for most Eastern Oregon house seat that involves reaching out to Democrats or non-affiliateds. That causes me a lot of concern.

  • (Show?)


    I'm sure to be attacked for this, but I can only rely on what we have seen in other states with these sorts of systems. The 1995 governor's race in LA had 16 candidates in the first round and four major candidates. The top two moved on with 18% of the vote. The 2002 French presidential contest has 15 candidates, and Chirac and Le Pen moved on 19.8% and 16.88%, respectively.

    These examples are common with top two style systems.

    As I noted already, I don't think you can compare the mayoral race in Portland because Sam Adams had every incentive to move to the median voter and maximize his support. In a top two, this incentive is removed.

    In terms of districting, I think Eastern Portland is relatively easy--you draw pie slice districts that draw in the relatively more conservative suburbs, rather than what they currently do, which is draw safe seats for both Dems and Reps.

    I agree there is no "right" way, but non-partisan redistricting is a known solution that has worked well in other states to increase competition.

    In Eastern Oregon, neither the Top Two nor redistricting will make any difference. I don't see how this will change the situation much, honestly, and could make things worse.

    The races will almost certainly pit a conservative Republican against an even more conservative Republican, and they'll fight it out twice rather than once. And any third party options who might try to squeeze in from the left or the center will be forced off the final ballot.

  • e (unverified)

    I guess I am just still not clear about what it is the TOP TWO is supposed to solve? The proponents talk about fairness and access and equality. I just don't see that those are issues in our current electoral system. Want to vote in a primary? Register with a party and then unaffiliate after the primary. Want to increase voter turn out? (even though Oregon has averaged a 50% voter turn out in primaries over the past 40 years per the SOS of office) Join orgs that register voters and help them get their ballots in on time.

    Proponents seem to believe there will be some panacea of benefits for this system. I just don't buy it. One of my fav arguments from Kiesling et al is that "no one here was alive when these statutes were written, so isn't time for a change?" What kind of ABSURD argument is that? No one on this post was alive when the Constitution was written, so toss that out too?

  • LT (unverified)

    Pete, I agree with this:

    "Paul, what shape of district would you propose that might invite a competitive D/R race east of the Cascades? or in East Portland? Gerrymandering is a problem, to be sure, but people always seem to forget that there is no "right" way to draw up districts. But all that aside, the principle of drawing districts in ways that guarantees competitive elections just doesn't sit right with me."

    I live in S. Salem. For decades there has been a mostly urban district next to a mostly rural district (now numbered 20 for the mostly urban and 19 for largely rural).

    Anyone who believes there is a "right" way to redraw district boundaries should weigh in on the districts involving a place like Marion County. I'm glad the 19/20 (formerly 30/31) combination was maintained by Bradbury. If people really believe that specific districts were drawn wrong, they should say how they would have drawn them differently. Seems an academic would have access to resources to do that. Should House Dist. 25 not have extended into Yamhill County? Is Dist. 23 kind of an afterthought and that is why it has pieces of so many counties?

    It is great to debate the generalities (legislature vs. Sec. of State vs. a commission). But as I understand it, the law says districts should be the same + or- a certain percentage. If, for instance, HD 25 shouldn't have extended into Yamhill County, how should that district and surrounding districts have been drawn to meet the population guidelines?

    If someone wants to present statistics (that Dist. 19 or 23 or 25 could have been drawn differently, for instance) they should do so publicly.

    Otherwise, this seems like a debating society exercise out of touch with real life.

    And why are we discussing this on the Measure 65 topic?

    Paul, this is true now: "The candidate is not forced at all to have a conversation with all of their voters."

    My state rep. does not do general purpose "ask me anything" town hall meetings under the current system. Given a scare by an underfunded candidate who did surprisingly well campaigning on "If elected, I will do a town hall a month" she did one town hall during the session. But not alone, she had the state senator and neighboring state rep. there as well. Is she afraid to talk to voters who are not in her "base"?

    However, in a M.65 situation, "appealing to the base" as too many candidates do in a primary would not be a guarantee of victory. A message would have to be widely appealing, not just to a narrow group. Why is that bad?

  • LT (unverified)

    Paul, about this: "The 1995 governor's race in LA had 16 candidates in the first round and four major candidates. "

    my response is OREGON IS NOT LOUISIANA!

    I don't believe 65 will turn Oregon into Louisiana. It just might turn Oregon into something approximating what it was like when Norma and Phil were in the legislature.

    If saying that makes me (insert insult here) then that is your problem. I've never met you, but I have known Norma and Phil for many years personally long before Blue Oregon existed.

  • e (unverified)

    LT: we all agree. Oregon is NOT like Louisiana! So why would we want to adopt their dysfunctional electoral system?

  • Seth Woolley (unverified)

    1) We already have legal endorsements, SEL400. 2) Independents can already vote for whomever they want in the general election 3) Repeal the sore loser law if you think people should be able to run as a third party after losing a primary election instead 4) This moves party endorsements into back rooms away from the primary nomination process. Essentially it repeals a progressive measure to eliminate back room dealing. 5) Party endorsements would be placed directly ON the ballot, so they have MORE influence than today where parties stay out of the endorsement process in the primaries and let the voters decide on their own merits. 6) Third parties WOULD be eliminated. This is a top two measure, not a top three or top four measure. One in 1400 races has seen third party, particularly when the two major parties learn they can run two candidates in strong districts to keep third parties out. At least we have a fighting chance under the current system to shift the debate to prevent the parties from running to a wishywashy center. Under this system, the wishy washy center will be split up and the extreme candidates slip under the radar. Note that the extreme candidates aren't third party candidates. We're much more mainstream; the nutty candidates will run under a MAJOR party banner, violating their identity! 7) WFP (Barb) and Sal don't mind eliminating OTHER third parties because, well, they don't want to offer to anybody a real alternative candidate -- they just want to endorse the establishment candidate they liked best. They are the true LESSER EVIL advocates. Every third party that actually runs candidates rather than endorsing is universally opposed to this measure. 8) The reduced turnout elections controlling our top two selection is a travesty of MAJORITY VOTE. Preference voting is already in our constitution. Even approval voting is better. They picked the worst election method for third parties that exists to replace it with. Why? To make it more palatable to the very weak opposition from the major parties. They even were able to get not just huge business groups and every corporate media outlet to endorse it, but many wishy-washy corporate legislators and some very confused progressives to get behind it. 9) Alternatives exist to open up access to independents, an independent-approval-vote primary for independent registered voters, for example, and paying for party nominations for minor parties as well as major parties. 10) The middle will split its vote, we see that in history. No academic voting methods expert believes this is a good idea.

    And really, why go to all the effort to make sure that we're counting our votes down to the last vote when this just exacerbates the lack of majority with plurality elections. At least now a spoiler's easy to identify, just vote for the two major parties and you at least know what you're voting for. In this system, everybody's a spoiler and there's nothing you can do about it, you don't know how the election will turn out because it might be down to a few percentage points between second and third place in determining the final two.

    It's how we got Chirac and le Pen in France. The lefties split their votes and two conservatives were the only choice.

    Really, we're smarter than this, we're braver than this regressive measure. We CAN do better. We need better election systems, not worse ones.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    LT wrote:

    It just might turn Oregon into something approximating what it was like when Norma and Phil were in the legislature.

    Of course, Norma and Phil were elected under the present system. What has been different since then is that the Republicans decided to appeal to religious fundamentalist and economic Know-Nothings, and darn, if those folks didn't take over the party. M65 will not fix this. It will take a replacement party. Just how are Democrats, progressive or not, supposed to make nice with an opposition that does not care when they sound ridiculous, as long they are reinforcing the lowest common denominator of their base?

  • Joel H (unverified)

    You know, the arguments for it and the explanatory text are pretty bad and make it seem like the promoters, for no apparent reason, copied Louisiana or made up some crackpot scheme. However, this system is not just used by one of the most corrupt U.S. states. It actually appears to be a perfectly normal two-round runoff system such as is used in presidential elections all over the world, including Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Russia, and dozens of other countries. If it's good enough for them, it must be good enough for us, right?

  • (Show?)

    Paul, to be clear -- I am not saying that the fairly even split can't happen, or even that it wouldn't be common. My point is, it's not the only way things might shake out -- and at least the way I read it the first time through, that's how your words sounded.

    There are currently many, many legislative races with fewer than four candidates in the primary and general elections combined.

  • (Show?)


    Very true. Since then, the Christian Coalition has taken over the Republican Party. It's just not the Republican Party it used to be.

  • George Seldes (unverified)

    This is the worst stealth anti-progressive idea possible.

    All you really need to know to understand Measure 65 is that the Oregonian loves it, and has treated it like it was Gordon Smith himself: trumpeting its virtues every chance possible, doing a terrible job explaining what it actually does, and never quite managing to come up with a single coherent reason to vote yes for either one that holds up under scrutiny.

    If Measure 65 is the answer, it was an asinine question to start with.

    (And it is: roughly, the question Measure 65 answers is "How can we do more to give political power to business by putting nominations in the hands of the most apathetic, least well-informed people in the electorate, the ones most open to persuasion via a barrage of expensive advertising.")

  • Travis Diskin (unverified)


    2) Independents can already vote for whomever they want in the general election

    I assume you mean here "non-affiliated voters."

    6) Third parties WOULD be eliminated.

    There are 2 measures by which minor political parties maintain ballot access. Only one of them relies on running a statewide candidate with a tiny % of the vote (along with a tiny % of voters registered with that minor party.) The other way to maintain ballot access is to register more members into your party.

    The Socialist Party and Natural Law party no longer have ballot access as they dropped below both thresholds. Should those thresholds been lowered for them to continue to have ballot access? How low should that threshold be?

    Perhaps minor parties need to do some recruiting of members to demonstrate their right to access.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    Ah, I was wondering why Walt Brown had switched to the Green Party.

  • (Show?)

    Pete yep we agree on that. By the way, I am a fan of the Montana Primary, I am a fan of multimember legislative districts, I am even a fan of crazy things like IRV and PR. I think there are real ways to attack the party duopoly, just this is not one of them. This doesn't attack the duopoly, it just attacks parties.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    According to this study (in French; I'm relying on Wikipedia) approval voting would have kept Le Pen off the second round of voting in the 2002 French presidential election. The French use ... a two round runoff system, just like M. 65 would give us. What was that about David Duke, Sal?

    Presumably IRV would have worked in France as well; I'd vote for that system in a second.

  • LT (unverified)

    Seth, about this: "4) This moves party endorsements into back rooms away from the primary nomination process. Essentially it repeals a progressive measure to eliminate back room dealing."

    Are you saying that the county or state officers will retreat into a back room to nominate candidates in a way that is more secretive than how FP and the other partisan legislative caucuses currently choose which candidates to support? Do you really believe that voters are sheep and will cast a vote for the chosen candidate because their party tells them to?

    As the grandchild of someone who helped put a stop to such behavior in 1930s Michigan, I just don't buy that argument. Pct. people are going to elect officers who will do that? How can you possibly know that?

    What is you evidence, or is this just an assumption?

    And anyone who thinks Phil and Norma were elected under "the current system", do you really believe that Future Pac and the rest of the caucus campaign arms existed in their current form when Phil Keisling ran for legislature after working for Speaker Katz in the mid-late 1980s or even back in 1970 when Norma first ran?

    Look up the report on Future Pac on the Sec. of State website (the pre-Orestar part) and you will see that FP as a fundraising entity was created in 1993. Are we to believe that prior to that time all state rep. elections were run exactly as they are now?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    What problem created by FuturePac will M65 solve, and how will it do that?

    It seems to me that the antidote for problems with political fund raising would be in the realm of campaign finance reform, not electoral systems.

  • (Show?)

    WFP (Barb) and Sal don't mind eliminating OTHER third parties because, well, they don't want to offer to anybody a real alternative candidate -- they just want to endorse the establishment candidate they liked best. They are the true LESSER EVIL advocates.


    I sent a letter to every member of the house and senate elections and rules committees that described the legislative change that needs to be made in order to protect minor political parties that have not met the very low 0.5% voter registration threshold from being eliminated if Measure 65 passes.

    I took the time to research the issue. I consulted with attorneys who are expert in Oregon election law to verify that the fix is adequate, and recommended it as a proposed piece of legislation if Measure 65 passes.

    Barb Dudley signed on to that letter.

    Has it occurred to you, or to any other Green, to do the same?

    As to this business about me "supporting the lesser of two evils" with regard to cross-nominated candidates...

    Some may disagree, but I do not see Kate Brown, Ben Westlund, Jeff Merkley, Joel Haugen, Vicki Berger, or Jim Gilbert as "the lesser of two evils".

    I see them as honorable and highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated support for the issues on which the Independent Party based its nominations during the 2008 election cycle -- primarily a constitutional amendment for campaign finance reform.

    Along with the other members of the Independent Party's nominating caucus, I believe that each of them is worthy of the party's support.

  • Jeremy Rogers (unverified)


    If you support these other systems so much than why don't you lead a campaign, raise a million dollars and try to get them passed? Until you can show that you are going to do that, I don't think that you can use "there are better systems out there" as a reason to oppose this one. I'd love to have a golden toilet but its just not in the cards.

  • Jeremy Rogers (unverified)

    Look there are a lot of things different about today and when Paulus was elected. A public committee on the legislature met in 2005 to analyze this and their #1 recommendation was the open primary.

  • Jeremy Rogers (unverified)

    Here is the link to the Public Commission on the Legislature:

    You can see from reading the report that we can have an open primary, nonpartisan redistricting, campaign finance reform, etc. They are not mutually exclusive and we should take advantage of the political opportunity to achieve each one. Right now, we have an opportunity to pass the open primary. Hopefuly soon we can pass campaign finance reform but only if our friends don't kill it.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    If some of us lack ambition, that's hardly a reason to choose a bad voting scheme that appears to be preferred by corrupt governments worldwide. I've been in lot of nerdy conversations about the virtues of various voting systems, and this one really never has come up.

  • Eddie G (unverified)

    Whenever I'm seriously conflicted about a ballot measure, I look at who its top endorsers/opponents are and who is spending money to pass or defeat it. Both sides in the Measure 65 debate have good points to make, but in the ballot handbook the pro-M65 arguments are largely the work of big corporations and establishment figures. Those urging a No vote are mainly unions and grassroots activists (including the unimpeachable Dan Meek). So for me, the choice is now clear. No on 65.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    The Public Commission on the Oregon Legislature made several recommendations. Although "open primary" is listed first, I have found no indication that they made it the "#1 recommendation."

    Fundamental reform:

    Open Primary Nonpartisan Legislature Nonpartisan State Controller Redistricting Commission Funding Government Standards and Practices Commission Initiative Reform Campaign Finance Legislator Compensation Institutional reform:

    Annual Sessions and Session Structure Partisanship Staffing Legislative Offices Hiring Family Members Alcohol Consumption Public Access Reforming legislative operations:

    Committees Bills and Amendments Program Evaluation Budget Notes Improving facilities and technology:

    Capitol Renovation and Comprehensive Facilities Plan Wireless Access Use of Technology Oregon Channel Audio and Video Hardware Security

  • (Show?)

    Jeremy, I'm confused - when you say the public committee's #1 recommendation was "the open primary" are you talking about M65 or about an actual open primary? And I'm not trying to be a jackass here, it's a serious question. The issue gets confused when we don't all call it the same thing, and it's not an open primary it's a top two primary. Correct?

  • (Show?)

    Katy, PCOL's recommendation was similar to, not the same as, Keisling's proposal.

    They recommended "Voter choice" elections for all partisan offices (excluding President), and provided that all electors should be permitted to vote for "voter choice" candidates in the primary election, and that the top two candidates should be permitted to advance to the general election.

    Under Oregon statute, it is already within the power of the major political parties to open their elections to non-partisan voters. They just need to provide notice to the SOS within 90 days of the primary election and make sure that their rules comply with constiutional protections.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for the clarification, it really was a serious question.

  • David from Eugene (unverified)


    Seth is right about this Measure returning us to back room politics. Assuming that a Major Party wants to win, in most districts the optimum strategy is to only have a single candidate from their party on the Primary Ballot and actively put the full weight of the party behind them. It is optimal because it effectively insures that the Major Party has a candidate in the General Election which is essential to win. While having 2 candidates in the race has the potential of having a single Party General Election it also raises the possibility that they will have no candidate in the General election at all.

    Given that the optimum strategy is a single candidate and that the Party wants to win, they will pick a candidate before the primary and actively discourage any other challengers from the party. Exactly how the Major parties will chose their single candidate, by a caucus, mini-convention or in the back room I cannot predict, but it will not be in public with all registered party members voting. This may not happen with the first election after the Measure, but it will right after the first election where one of the Major Parties does not have a candidate in a race.

  • LT (unverified)

    Katy, if memory serves, PCOL also had quite a discussion of nonpartisan legislature---either along the lines of the year the voters forced them to get along by electing 15 members of each party (given how contentious things had been the previous session, there were people who considered that the revenge of the voters) or the nonpartisan legislature bill which had passed the Senate before PCOL was created.

  • LT (unverified)

    David from Eugene--do Lane Dems act as a single celled organism, or are they individuals as they used to be when I was active in party politics.

    Think about what you said for a moment:

    "Seth is right about this Measure returning us to back room politics. Assuming that a Major Party wants to win, in most districts the optimum strategy is to only have a single candidate from their party on the Primary Ballot and actively put the full weight of the party behind them. "

    "Major Party wants to win"---do you mean state party or do you mean local county party. If you mean state party, currently you are talking about Meredith the chair, the other officers, Jenny and Wayne the DNC members. Given how well known Meredith is, the closeness of her election as chair came as a surprise to some of the people who were at the state reorganization. But you know that in the future there wouldn't be discussion of the strengths of individuals in public, there would be "optimum strategy is to only have a single candidate from their party on the Primary Ballot and actively put the full weight of the party behind them. "

    In previous years, there have been party chairs at all levels who made it a point of honor not to endorse in the primary. But you are saying that would change if 65 passed. On what evidence?

    Local county parties in downstate areas are already familiar with their candidates in "impossible" districts being ignored either by the state party or by the caucus. But they soldier on anyway, and sometimes things turn out better than expected. In some of those districts, the county party will recruit or assist candidates whether anyone at higher levels in the party even cares if there is a Democrat running. But all that is going to change under 65 because you say so?

    Unless you have concrete evidence, please quit spinning yarns. As far as secret meetings, that has already happened a few years ago. ORGOP wanted to vote to endorse some measure (anti-gay, if memory serves) but in private so they didn't let in the press or anyone else. When Kevin Mannix was chair, I believe.

    Why all this concentration on "the party" when parties are not mentioned in the Oregon Constitution which begins, "We the people..."?

  • Ian McDonald (unverified)
    Truth is, the results of the experiment can't be known until we run it, so all arguments are speculative. That alone is a persuasive argument to give it a shot.

    Jeff...for me, not so persuasive. As a decision process, that's kinda scary, actually. I think McCain said something like this when he chose Sarah Palin.

    I agree there is (necessarily) a lot of conjecture about this proposal. Here's mine: proponents are vastly understating the significance of the Democratic and Republican party endorsements, and overselling the benefit of the candidate's self-declaration of party. I've read the many optimistic scenarios on this point described by the supporters and I am completely unconvinced.

    And the things that parties will do as they bestow the endorsement (which will be a de facto, old fashioned nomination) will not be pretty. One of the BlueOregon regulars keeps making this point, and I think that concern is getting brushed off.

    I can buy one argument: if you believe, as a matter of principle, that the state shouldn't subsidize a party nomination process while excluding some voters, you have a good reason to support M65. If your eyes are open about the negative consequences, and you still believe in this principle, then I think you have a defensible argument.

    To claim that the quality of the election process will demonstrably improve (more centrists, more third party involvement, the cleansing effect of independents): not persuasive in the least.

    PS: I dislike this measure, but it's far from the worst thing on the ballot. Why am I so annoyed by it? I don't think I'm alone.

  • Seth Woolley (unverified)

    Sal, You think Kate Brown isn't a lesser evil? She's worked hard against initiative rights. She championed HB2614 in 2005 in an underhanded process keeping non-affiliated candidates off the ballot. She's defended Bradbury's redistricting process which is more responsible for the Democratic landslide majority in the Senate than any other factor. She's not been advocating anything like IRV, PR, or any other major reforms. Her position on Campaign Finance Reform is particularly weak and yet that was the basis of your endorsement. Fair? You're a Democratic partisan, Sal: you're quoted all over the Kate Brown endorsement despite her consistent partisan sellouts.

    Kate's an architect of big-money backing for Democrats, and she uses her massive donation machine to wield enormous influence and power.

    You and Barb just want to help the two major parties stay in power. And then your support of this measure -- locking most third parties out of the process. You don't have an excuse, Sal.

    I have lobbies for better election systems more than just "I sent a letter". I actually force the issues front and center. Your endorsement of Kate removes force of the issue. It says, "keep on keeping on".

    Mark my words, Kate has milked your endorsment and don't expect anything in return other than perhaps a location on a committee. If she's really going to keep her word, she'd appoint somebody like me to a committee even after I potentially spoil her election. I will withhold my support until after I win, rather than before.

    And for all the people say that a commission appointed by Democrats and Republicans champion a reform that every minor party opposes -- and we should support it because of that commission. Look at the source of that proposal -- Dems and Reps. It HELPs major parties maintain their lock. It takes power out of the hands of the PEOPLE of the party to decide their candidate, and that's why the parties oppose it too, but it surely HELPS incumbents, which is why you see so many currently elected or formerly elected two-party slaves supporting it.

    Governor Edwards of Louisiana put the top two system in place there to help keep him in power. When it's down to just two candidates, just wait for the attack ads to come -- an attack ad nets just as many votes for you as it does against the other person because there's no choice. Under this system, candidates don't run to the middle, they run on the attack and they run to their base -- their base many not align with the parties 100%, but they WILL have a base, as we saw with David Duke, again in Louisiana.

    And still, I have not seem one effective rebuttal that we should have a system that doesn't ensure a majority support the candidate elected. Spoiling will be more commonplace than it is now due to the increase in the number of candidates in one election (even if there is no overall increase -- anybody not thinking they will make the top two will not consider running). The anti-majoritarianness of this measure is appalling, and that reason alone is enough to oppose it. 15% of the voters deciding who gets to the general election? please! That's a violation of one person, one vote.

    Voter turnout reduced in Washington, and Louisiana had one of the worst voter turnouts in the country. I know they'll say we can't compare, but they have no reason given why we can't compare other than some ludicrous "Oregon's unique" response.

    Sal, if you want real non-partisan reform, we'd have a choice vote STV election or Range/Score vote (PR modification). Both those can ensure proportional representation of the electorate. Really, reform should ensure that we have proportional representation and the only way to truly get that is a party-line party-elected lower house.

    If this measure actually did what it said it did -- support moderate candidates, which it doesn't -- we would have an extremely lily-white legislature, anti-minority, anti-woman, and anti-principled. That's not proportional representation.

    Instead, it creates a coin flip election where the number of candidates from each viewpoint determines the outcome. That's appalling, and I will have nothing to do with it. Let's have real reform, not fake reform.


  • LT (unverified)

    Seth, them's fighting words:

    "She's defended Bradbury's redistricting process which is more responsible for the Democratic landslide majority in the Senate than any other factor."

    Perhaps that is true about the Senate in an alternate universe, but here's what happened in the universe where I live.

    Republicans had a 20-10 majority and they threw their weight around. Lied about whether the Gov. had actually communicated with them, so the Gov. released copies of his correspondence with them to the public (could be picked up from his reception lobby--right there on a table). They were living proof of the saying a friend of mine had, "Hubris is followed by nemesis". Thought they controlled the capitol building and not just their chamber. Some made comments along the lines of "and next session, we will get that changed to..." without checking into whether that was what the voters wanted, or just what members of the Senate majority wanted. Next election, the voters chose to change that to a 17 majority, and one of the moderate Republicans said,"Now, they'll have to listen to moderates!".

    They were resistant to input from ordinary folks (say what you will about Ted Ferrioli, he is much more willing to talk with ordinary folks --as is his staff--than the days of the Republican Senate majority). They played political games, and claimed they spoke for voters as if voters had no right to think for themselves.

    In 2002 there was a new group called the Oregon Bus Project which worked on motivating young people to "get on the bus" and go canvass for candidates whose stand on the 5 E's they supported (things like Environment, Education, 'Ealth Care). An army of volunteers campaigned for certain St. Senate candidates, and at least one of the winners considered the BUS PROJECT a major force in his election. And there was at least one candidate (Bill Witt, I think) who did something really stupid to his opponent, giving the opponent a justified right in looking up and putting in ads some of Witt's past campaign behavior in other elections.

    But the bottom line, I always thought, was the ordinary voters tired of the political games. As was said after the election, "The voters gave you a 15-15 split, now all you Senators will HAVE TO find a way to get along".

    Don't rewrite history around people who participated in that history.

  • Seth Woolley (unverified)


    You completely dodged the issue.

    Democrats have about a 60/40 split in the legislature. Registration and voting tends to follow a closer split -- about 55/45 (considering just those two). Where does the extra representation come from? Districts that contain slight Democratic majorities near districts that contain a high degree of Republican majorities.

    Districts are a form of regional proportional representation. D and R tends to split along geographic boundaries, especially in Oregon. The redistricting process essentially determines what the makeup of the legislature will be -- fair to both parties in proportion to their voting electorate, or unfair to one party.

    Bradbury chose the unfair route. Twenty years ago ESRI wrote software that on the click of a button after entering a few variables, would create fair districts automatically. The Dems opposed it. The Republican liked the idea.

    Why would they like the idea? Because in 2010, the Republicans may lose out again. Yes, I know this is Blue Oregon, yes I know it has a political slant, but just think -- shouldn't we acknowledge that the legislature should proportionally represent the viewpoints of the electorate, in equal proportion?

    I'll remind you that Kulongowski won his election only thanks to a Libertarian spoiler and Merkley won his election only thanks to a Constitution spoiler. The Pacific Green Party stayed out of those races mainly due to the importance of not spoiling important races. Conservatives still are able to get majorities in this state. The district shapes are directly responsible for the large disparity between representation in the legislature and how people vote for statewide offices as well as register to vote. That cannot be denied when one looks at the raw data.

    At the same time we avoided spoiling those races, we advocated electoral reform that eliminated the spoiler issue like ranked choice voting / instant runoff voting, which is gaining ground all over the country. If we don't see any action on IRV/RCV, you can expect to see much stronger campaigning with the direct intent to spoil. Will the Democratic Party learn how to be fair? We'll see. We'll see. With the amount of power they have now, I'm guessing they won't be fair. It's difficult even for well-meaning politicians to look beyond self-protection.


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