Before I outline my ideas and concern, I must say I do enjoy political conventions. It is great time to see people and renew friendships with those most dedicated to the party. Most all involved live and breath politics and spending time with them is really a lot of fun I must admit. However, as much as I and other party activists might enjoy the convention process, it is a system thats time has passed.
The biggest problem with the convention is that it imposes an undue burden on those who must travel long distances to attend. The cost for travel on those coming from SWVA has proven to be a real deterrent to participation. It cost me over $100 just in gas to get to Richmond and I didn't stay overnight. It was a 6 hour round trip for me. There is no practical way for anyone living west of me to drive up just for the day. For them lodging drives up the cost even more. This discrimination was apparent in the attendance from SWVA. I heard only two delegates made the trip from Carroll County, a very Republican County.
In theory the way a convention should work is you go to a local mass meeting and elect delegates to attend the convention to vote your interests if you cannot attend. This doesn't work with today's structure. With no delegate slating you basically have to attend yourself as a delegate to have your vote counted. With Roanoke County there were 189 delegate votes with the potential for up to 5 times that number able to attend. This would have allowed 945 people to attend and vote. Only 42 did!
I know many have a problem with open primaries that could allow non-republican voters to enter into our process. Since we don't have registration by party (I supported while in the Virginia Senate) we could look to another option.
We should design a statewide caucus or canvass process. This process would be run in each local unit. They could be run with a set system for voting on a certain day in early June. This would allow all Republicans to vote locally. The results from each unit would then tabulated and posted to a website using a secure password much like the state board of elections does. The actual ballots could also be transmitted to the state HQ for verification. I feel a process like this should be used for all statewide campaigns for elected office. If the party still wants to hold conventions for party offices that would be OK. Furthermore it would force the local committees to function. It would strengthen our numbers by having our neighbors in the habit of voting in the local caucuses. I would suggest procedures that mimic the state run primary process. We could use the same filing deadlines, filing fees and requirement for petitions.
Some might say that this is to difficult. Poppycock! If Iowa and Nevada can run a statewide caucus then the great Commonwealth of Virginia can pull this off. Let's get started with the 2009 races.