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Talking points against measure 65

Measure 65 is a huge and complicated gutting of our current system that has the effect of undemocratically destroying third parties, allowing manipulation through "ringer" candidates by being harder to get a majority of the vote, limiting options in the general election, increasing the cost of elections, and relegating endorsements to back-rooms by repealing public funded party nominations. Oregonians need MORE choices using a spoiler-free counting method, such as Ranked Choice Voting, not fewer choices in spoiler-rich elections caused by encoding our two-party system into law with a "top-two"-only preliminary system.

65 limits choice in the general election

Measure 65 limits voter choice in the general election, period, regardless of party. Forcing voters to vote for the lesser of two evils should never be enshrined in our voting system. In a Ballot Access News study by Editor Richard Winger, only once out of 1400 races was there an independent candidate promoted to the general election. More recently, in Washington State, where they haven't learned how to manipulate it yet, of the five non-major-party candidates promoted to the general election, they were all in races with only two candidates in the primary in the first place, and each minor party candidate would have lost if the Democrats ran two candidates to keep the third parties out. It shouldn't be up to the whim of the major parties to keep third parties out of normally non-competitive elections if they so desire. In Washington, the amount of non-major-party participation in the general election went from 27 races in 2004 to just 5 in 2008.

Ringers would be commonplace, spoiling made easy

Under Measure 65, primary elections could become a game of "ringers," with political consultants recruiting candidates just to split the votes of the other parties. Republican consultants could recruit people to register and file as "Democratic" candidates, splitting the Democratic vote. Democrats could recruit phony "Republicans." Both of them could recruit phony "Independents" and phony "Libertarians," further increasing the party identity theft. It puts all candidates together with no majority requirement, exacerbating spoiler issues we already have in our general elections. We should mandate majority using Ranked Choice Voting instead of a "top two" system.

65 leads to longer, more expensive campaigns

Measure 65 will make campaigns longer and thus more expensive, as more campaigning would have to be done in the primary phase since it's effectively two general elections.

65 is NOT an open primary: endorsements would be back-room deals

Measure 65 is NOT an open primary, which is when you get to pick your party ballot when you show up at the polls. 65 is called a "Jungle" or "Louisiana" System. Measure 65 will move political endorsements to a much smaller set of party insiders without state funding of major party nominations. Let's fund all party primaries and also have a primary for non-affiliated voters instead of this! Remember that party primaries were a progressive measure where the public stepped in to MOVE party endorsements from back rooms to EVERY member for this very reason!

65 would destroy third parties

Measure 65 will destroy third parties by eliminating most third parties' ability to get to the general election ballot where they normally get 1% statewide to maintain ballot access. After one election cycle, they wouldn't be able to even endorse at all. Every minor party other than two are opposed. The two neutral parties are the Working Families Party and the Independent Party. The Independent Party's founders are working hard against this measure. The two members of those parties that pushed to not oppose measure 65 are Barbara Dudley (WFP) and Sal Paralta (IPO). Barbara's Working Families Party exists only to influence the two major parties and refuses to run any candidates except for one to maintain ballot status so as to endorse, not nominate. Paralta is a former Democrat who pushed to endorse Democrats within the Independent Party, instead of supporting other third party alternatives. Those who desire for true alternatives outside the two party system are universally opposed to the top two Measure 65.

65 "kind of" supports a "center" party at the cost of all others

Measure 65 "kind of" supports centrist candidates who differ only minutely on wedge issues from poll issues -- partisan bickering on a narrow range of debate will continue. The centrists should instead create their own Republicratic Party rather than effectively banning third parties they disagree with and violating the freedom to associate of the two parties they more closely align. The irony is that due to the low turnout of primary elections and the mass of candidates that would appear in these elections, the centrists will end up worse off. Usually in a Top Two system, many centrist candidates would join the race, splitting their vote, lowering the threshold for less numerous, more radical candidates with a vocal core of support to be promoted. This was proven in France (Chirac/Le Pen), Louisiana (Duke, twice), and Peru (Flores/Humala/Garcia).

65 does not increase voter turnout, but depresses it

Measure 65 advocates feared a comparison with Louisiana, the only state with a track record, with one of the nation's worst voter turnout, and told us to look at Washington's elections since our electorate is so much more informed. Despite a predicted record turnout, turnout decreased. We can now look at Washington and find that in the recent primary, voter turnout compared with the last presidential election actually dropped 3% from 45% to 42%. Their 39% figure for a 3% increase comes from comparison to a mid-term election, which historically, with no presidential candidate, always has reduced turnout. With only two counties left without standard mail-in-balloting, Washington should have seen dramatic increases in turnout. Despite Washington's nearly complete mail-in ballot system, it still isn't able to reach our record levels of participation. Why mess up a formula that not only works for Oregon but beats records compared to all other systems?

65 is an attack on our freedom to associate

Measure 65's proponents' main goal is to make it easier for lobbyists and big money to manipulate parties and their candidates so they can raise taxes and spend for their special interests.

Measure 65 will likely lose in court over the freedom to associate. The system was held constitutional, however, the Supreme Court noted that it was premature to discuss the main issue of party identity upon which the Republican Party of Washington sued. Federal courts will continue to review the case for legality, and the "fix" of publishing the party label does nothing truly different. They claim that the party label will not be diluted because you have to pick a party from the list on the registration card instead of allowing free-form text. That's actually false: the voter registration cards allow free-form text in an "other" category, leading to no real fix to the problem as pointed out by the suit.

65 is a solution for a problem that doesn't exist

Partisanship isn't a problem in Oregon. The sources of partisanship are invariably from big money influencing our elections. The Sizemore and Mannix campaigns are funded by big money, which is now primarily out of state money. A constant cry against Republicans is heard -- is Rick Dancer partisan? Is John Haugen partisan? Haugen is a case where a centrist Republican got the nomination, but he switched to the Independent Party. He would be on the ballot anyways even if the Republicans didn't nominate him. Under "top two", Haugen might not even appear if the Republicans ran somebody against him. Is Kroger partisan, despite winning both party nominations? Is Alley a raving partisan despite serving under Democrats? What about Westlund, another centrist? Who are partisan ideologues being elected by our system? Merkley and Smith are getting most of their partisan backing from independent national organizations. Smith's campaign has been particularly toxic, and yet he's a centrist Republican by virtually every measure. When the Republicans became more rightward on tax issues and social issues, it followed a national trend -- and guess what happened -- the Republican Party declined in Oregon. Parties appear to be self-correcting as it is.

65 is even worse than Louisiana's top two as bad as it was

In Louisiana, the general election was in November, and a runoff only happened if nobody got a majority. This is slightly better because you get better turnout of the "primary" part. The problem with that fix is that the runoff elections are now inferior elections. To solve the problem, Louisiana actually moved their general election back to October in 2005 with possible runoffs in November, and then in 2006 moved the congressional races back to a closed primary to attempt to remain consistent with the U.S. Constitution. Louisiana keeps changing its systems and Washington keeps changing its system, too, in attempts to work around Constitutionality issues. Do we want to enter the same legal limbo that Louisiana and Washington have?

65 would allows two members of the same party in the top two

Measure 65 advocates appear to be ok with two members of the same party in the runoff, but in the recent election in Washington, five double-Democrat and three double-Republican for a total of eight single-party races were promoted to the General election. Having a single-party general election is not a path to meaningful debate at all.

65 violates proportional representation of the legislature

Even if we assumed that centrist candidates were supported under this measure, it's a poorly-thought-out modification. Currently, the 70% of Oregon that splits between Democrat and Republican are representated about proportionally in the two legislative houses. The rural-urban divide is actually exacerbated by our regional proportional system that made BOTH "views" of our bicameral legislature essentially the same -- single seat districts broken up by region in both houses. However, the fact remains that 70% of the people are represented. Under "top two", if it worked as intended, we would see an eventual shift of all candidates toward a center that would revolve around the percentage split between Democrat and Republican in each district. That would mean that rather than having consistent parties represented, a "center" that has no consistent ideology would overtake both houses. That center represents about 20% of the population, which is far less than the current 70%.

Better proportional representation can be had with STV instead of Measure 65

Measure 65 claims to be a tool to enable representation of non-affiliated voters. They insist, but better options are available. A well-designed government uses the bicameral system effectively -- a directly elected house and a party-proportional house. Oregon has already declared party-proportionality constitutional in Article II, Section 16 of its Constitution. If we made the lower house six districts of ten legislators, divided upon the six congressional districts we would have after the next decennial census, elected using single-transferable voting (STV), which is a form of Ranked Choice Voting, we could see true proportional representation. The upper house (Senate) would remain direct single-seat elections, providing regional representation as we already have, however we should use RCV through single-seat IRV to allow voters to also rank their Senators.

65 changes appointment process such that opposing parties would be appointed in violation of the majority

Measure 65 changes the appointment process so that the second place candidate may get appointed, changing the party that represents the district, and there wouldn't be recourse. Furthermore, the party in charge would not even have to select a candidate from the same political party to fill other vacancies. This is just more potential for abuse against the electorate by the majority party.

Ranked choice voting (IRV) is a true majority reform against spoiling

Ranking Candidates in order of preference, first, second, and third, etc. was legalized in 1908 in Article II, Section 16 of the Oregon Constitution. Ranked Choice Voting, AKA Instant Runoff Voting or IRV eliminates the spoiler issue, reduces the length of elections to just one election, and actually ensures a majority get to elect candidates. Measure 65 has none of the benefits of IRV and all the downsides of our current non-majority simple "plurality" voting. We should enforce our right to rank candidates by preference instead of throwing more money at elections for no democratic benefit.

Independent candidate nominations can directly be made easier

Measure 65 doesn't solve any primary right to vote problem: All Oregonians have the right to vote in party processes, including primaries, by state law. However, Non-affiliated voters have a very difficult time getting on the ballot due to HB2614 after the 2004 Nader fiasco in Oregon. To fix that is very simple -- repeal HB2614 of 2005 and/or reduce requirements for independents to match the percentage of their own kind (rather than all voters) to get on the ballot. Alternatively, we can hold a non-affiliated Primary election using approval voting: anybody with a majority approval of non-affiliated voters moves on to the general election.

65 doesn't enable fusion voting

Measure 65 doesn't enable fusion voting. Multi-partisan endorsements are legal already. Multi-partisan nomination will be outlawed under it after as well as before.

65 is funded by big business groups and lobbyists

All of the 20 "for" pamphlet statements for Measure 65 were funded by big business and centrist politicians and lobbyists who favor business interests -- about the only thing both major parties agree on. There is no grassroots campaign for the measure. Why would they support this measure? Because with longer campaigns, a longer lead time, the removal of democratic primaries as a means of party endorsements, and the lack of campaign finance reform in Oregon, business interests (e.g. the Oregon Business Council) can use its system to hand-pick candidates for either major party early on in the process, while also keeping out the rest of the minor parties from the general election. Measure 65 along with zero limits on campaign donations (also kept in place by business interests) constitute a fatal threat to Oregon's Democracy.

Voter apathy demands more choices, not fewer

Oregon's growing non-affiliated voters are sick of both parties -- they don't want to be stuck with two candidates who are half-way between two types of corruption. Voter apathy demands more choices, not fewer.