Rasoul public primary amendment game-changer for partisanship

Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke City) has introduced a bill that calls for a constitutional amendment allowing for public primaries.

Rasoul says this reform of the election process will help limit partisanship in both campaigns and government.

“Legislators have little incentive to compromise. Our broken primary system rewards partisanship over the needs of the people,” said Rasoul.  “Now more than ever, we need to restore trust in politics. This can be done by giving more power back to the voters with reform that generates more competitions and choice for citizens. By creating a system that does not favor partisan fringes in primaries, we can ensure the majority of citizens have their voice heard. This method has shown very positive results in states like Nebraska.”

Also known as “Top 2” or “open” primaries, all candidates for an office would participate in the same “public” primary with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election, regardless of party. This can produce two Democrats, two Republicans, or some other combination running against each other in the general election, forcing the debate to be less extreme as more of the focus shifts to the needs of the majority.

For the first time in Virginia history, every single incumbent in the General Assembly won reelection in the general election last November. The result of “public” primaries is more competitive elections and more of a true voice for voters.

Having a “public” primary system, this November California will have two Democrats on the general election ballot for U.S. Senate in the highest profile race ever for this type of reform. Republicans and others will feel their vote matters in this very Democratic state.

HJ 541 will be considered in the General Assembly when the 2017 session convenes in January.

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