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Open primaries would help other states, too

Our View -   Jan 20, 2011

A possible solution to our political partisanship problems is to adopt open primaries nationwide. In that way, candidates would be more likely to preach and vote according to their own honest opinions of the best way to govern rather than the way their party wants it to be.

Louisiana is the only state in the union with open primaries. This evolved when former Gov. Edwin Edwards had to face several candidates in the democratic primary and then had to face one of them again in the democratic primary runoff. If that wasn’t enough, he had to face Republican Dave Treen in the general election.

Three elections for one term of office were too much so Edwards had a constitutional amendment passed to create open primaries in which candidates from all parties and independents run against each other in the primary election.

And, if no one gets a majority, the two leaders oppose each other in the general election, regardless of which party they are in.

Much simpler. That reduced the math and expense to only two elections. And candidates are more likely to seek support from voters of other parties.

And in that case, the parties of the candidates make less difference, allowing them to keep more of an open mind about what they will do if elected. The rest of the nation could benefit from such a system.

But it is very doubtful that this would happen nationwide. The parties are powerful as they are and are unlikely to let their members forego some of that power for the benefit of bipartisanship.

Perhaps other states, however, could institute open primaries as Louisiana did and, if it works with them, it may spread the word around the country. It would open up our political thinking and we would have led the way.

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