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Libertarian Case For Open Primaries and Ranked Choice Voting In Nevada
Brandon Davis
September 8, 2022

In this article I’m going to provide a Libertarian case for endorsing, and voting Yes on, the Better Voting Nevada Initiative that is attempting to make it’s way to the ballot in Nevada’s 2022 general election.

BALLOT INITIATIVE SUBMITTAL:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ptUO33S0P0-9Z0Fj96W5d8DZgZtizx09/view?usp=sharing

RESEARCH:

https://www.uniteamerica.org/reports/the-primary-problem?_ga=2.26241277.1189061525.1621548752-1637372035.1621548752

https://act.represent.us/sign/3-reasons-open-primaries-transform-politics/

FACTS:

  • Would change current “closed” primaries to an “open” primary. All candidates in same primary, and top 5 move on to general election. All registered voters would be able to vote in primaries for any candidate.
  • All Statewide races affected, including Offices of US Senator, US Representative, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Controller, and State Legislators. It excludes President, Vice President, and local city/county races.
  • Current ballot access requirements for minor parties written in NRS would be nullified, as this is a constitutional statute.
  • No additional costs to city, county, state, or taxpayers

 

 MY THOUGHTS:

We’re a party that represents open markets, more choice, and freer elements of society. Libertarians have been fighting against the two-party duopoly stranglehold on our system for decades, and I believe implementing Open Primaries and Ranked Choice Voting takes a piece of their control away.

There’s a reason why the Democrat establishment majority is fighting this initiative tooth and nail. Steve Sisolak, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Jacky Rosen among others, oppose this initiative. These are career crony politicians who know that it removes part of their control of the system.

Final-Five Voting (Open Primaries & RCV) doesn’t benefit one “side” more than the other. It is not designed to necessarily change who wins.  It’s designed to change what the winners have the freedom to do and are incentivized to do—and on whose behalf they’re doing it.

It will reward candidates and parties that run the best campaigns, appeal to the most voters in the general election (not just to party primary voters as is the case in the current system) and do the better job of governing once in office.

I’ve seen the data spanning back more than a decade’s worth of elections. Well over 90% of races end up having 3 candidates or less, so the fear of having Libertarian candidates never advancing to the general election is unfounded. We MAY see that scenario in larger races such as Governor, Congress, etc… but if we are producing solid candidates who run REAL campaigns that resonate with voters then it won’t be an issue being competitive. An argument against this insinuates a lack of faith in what our party and its candidates can accomplish.

Ballot access is something our party has fought for, for decades. But let’s think of the difference between Ballot Access and being categorized as Minor Party status. NRS 293.171 states what is required to be labeled as a “Minor Party” in Nevada, which has little to do with elections or candidates. Now, “Ballot Access” is another thing and is detailed in NRS 293.1715. Currently, ballot access is required to have our candidates on the ballot, and to do so requires we maintain several key indicators and/or get signature petitions. With this Final Five Voting Initiative, it requires our candidates to be on the ballot anyways and is cemented in the state constitution (which overrules NRS statutes). So, in essence, ballot access becomes a mute point.

I have supported this from the start and have had meetings and calls with all of the initiative’s organizers. I have read (and re-read) all of the language in the draft. I have done a lot of research and kept it in thought. I made a choice to publicly endorse it in my Governor campaign because I believe it’s the best path forward.

PROS:

  • Removes requirements for ballot access stated in NRS 293.1715
  • Allows over 30% of the state who aren’t registered R or D to vote in primaries
  • Reduces and/or removes bad politicking, mudslinging, and other negative campaigning in primary elections
  • Places no additional burdens on taxpayers
  • Reduces control of Republican and Democrat parties in elections
  • Forces media, polling, and our elections/political system to honor, include, and recognize independents and minor party candidates in primary elections
  • Ranking allows voters to vote with their conscious, instead of voting for one person to defeat another
  • Increases fairness and choice for everyone

 

CONS:

  • Libertarian candidates no longer slide directly to the general election
  • Libertarian candidates may face larger competition in bigger races (ie..Governor, Congress, et…)

 

Conclusion:

I support this initiative and I think it’s a net positive for the LPNV. I believe it will create more inclusion for Libertarian candidates in media, forums, and debates. I believe it removes some of the stronghold the duopoly currently holds. I think it’s a more fair system and allows more choice for voters. If as Libertarians our goal is to break down the stranglehold the Republicans and Democrats have on our political system, this is a step in the right direction.

The LPNV has an opportunity to take a stand on this and come out in support of it. This could show the Nevada Supreme Court justices that their fears of negative impact on minor parties is unfounded, and send a clear message to the public that we support fairness in our electoral process.

I hope all Libertarians in Nevada and the LPNV Executive Committee will stand with me.

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