Save Oregon's Democracy
Vote NO on Measure 90

Say NO to Louisiana "top two" elections

The Freedom to Associate is important
for a vibrant democracy

Measure 65 is a radical attempt by lobbyists unable to sway principled representatives to replace our normal primary system with a system straight from Louisiana, a system that gives power to fringe candidates like KKK leader David Duke, leads to reduced voter turnout, eliminates debate on multiple fronts, and benefits special interest influence peddlers in Salem.

Measure 65's main "pitch" is that it also sends a primary ballot to non-partisan voters. This could have been done without infringing our freedom of association by directly creating a primary for non-partisans themselves to place non-partisan candidates in an easier fashion into the general election. Instead of real reform, Measure 65 violates our freedoms and dismantles debate and democracy.

Measure 65's real goal is to weaken the freedom of association in Oregon by preventing the right of parties to choose their own candidates under the Constitutionally-protected first amendment right of free association.

The terrible irony is that "top two" primaries virtually never promote independents and third party candidates to the "top two" in the general election, and always never promote independents for statewide races.

Why would these lobbyists attempt this subterfuge? They point to Republicans who sign "no tax increase" pledges and to Democrats who are supported by large unions as creating "gridlock" in Salem. Campaign limits would be more effective against such incursions by outside influences such as corporations and unions. But what they want to do is different. Since they are lobbyists themselves, they want to break the two party system that holds their representatives accountable by eliminating the power of political parties to select their own candidates. That sounds good in theory, but pay attention to how they do it.

Their hope is that candidates will no longer be representing diverse interests, but instead, will become a single party, without principles advocated by any party, to raise taxes and increase spending for their special interests. In the end, the ideologies with the most money will be run through the legislature with little to no debate.

In addition to fundamentally eliminating our democratic checks and balances while in the legislature, Measure 65 would push all meaningful debate from outside the two major parties they want to weaken to low-turnout primaries. Minor parties that contribute to the debate now in general elections and also hold major party candidates accountable will no longer have the power to air alternative opinions against the status quo and against influence peddling in Salem. Why? Because despite their stated disdain of the two party system, Measure 65 actually reinforces the two party system by its nature of taking only the top two candidates.

In Louisiana, the only state with a track record of using the top two system, the unfortunate reality for the proponents of Measure 65 is that "top two" doesn't actually elect the candidates they want to see elected. Instead, radical, fringe elements with a vocal core of support make it into the top two time after time. A leader of the KKK, David Duke has had strong showings in many races and has even been elected under the top two system because centrist candidates, being more numerous, particularly in statewide races, split each others' votes, lowering the election threshold to the top two and forcing voters to choose between two extreme candidates. This works well into their plans: by limiting debate to two parties while weakening the ability those two parties' registrants now have to promote principled candidates, only monied lobbyists remain to be able to influence Salem.

Furthermore, and probably most importantly, Measure 65 will eliminate one of the most democratic institutions we have: the primary system of nominating party candidates. Primaries were originally created to move party endorsements from back rooms and low-attended conventions to polls of every registered member of a party. Measure 65 is also careful not to completely eliminate parties, but instead keeps them around only to allow them to be manipulated by a small group of lobbyists that now would have free reign to influence party endorsement processes without all their registrants from having a say. Measure 65 is an assault on democracy and strengthens the power of lobbyists in virtually every change it makes, both before and after elections, eliminating debate in Salem, and eliminating third parties. Voters should follow the money to the business lobbyists and former elected officials (most of whom are now lobbyists themselves) and current elected officials (who want to be future lobbyists) that advocate for the Louisiana System.

Measure 65 is simply undemocratic and unfair

Please, vote NO on Measure 65