Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Scrap the Convention Nomination System

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.


JTylerBallance said...

The open primary is what I LOVE about Virginia politics.

Democrats have to at least appear to listen to sportsmen, gun owners and evangelicals, etc.

While Republicans have to depart from their quiche at the country club, long enough to pretend to notice how working class people are struggling along.

The open primary also helps both parties nominate candidates with broad (or at least broader) appeal.

Virginians like their politics blended, anyway, so having a few Democrats playing in the Republican Primary and vice versa does not alter the outcomes, it only gets more of the opposite factions in contact with each other.

Cost is a big factor that people talk about when trying to advocate for caucuses and conventions, however, if we shorten the campaign season to thirty days, costs can be reduced in open primaries.

Additionally, I don't think having party bosses pick zealots from either extreme is in the best interest of the Commonwealth. I also like having the oversight afforded from having a public election.

From what I saw at the GOP Convention, sleazy political games are still being played by the old guard and the quicker the election process is extracted from their hands the better for the citizens.

Brandon Bell said...


Additionally I think the primary deadline should be later than early June. I found getting people aware that they have something to vote right when school is letting out is tough. I think having the primary deadline in August would be much better. Momentum would flow right into the fall instead of having the summer lull. Mississippi which has off federal cycle state elections has nominating primaries in August with much higher turnout than Virginia's.

vicky said...

I agree those living in Richmond have to spit farther than they must drive for this type of convention. Those of us in far SW VA must pay a few hundred dollars (gas + lodging + food) just to vote. How exactly is this fair to the voting process? We have to "pay to vote" while others don't.

yoder said...

I don't mind driving becouse by living a long ways away my vote counts for more than others may. There were several counties where only 2 people showed up. My wife and I drove 4 hours each way Saturday, leaving at 5:30am and getting home late. This was the first state wide convention we have attended and we loved it.
If it had been run better we would have enjoyed it even more. The votes should have been taken at the same time and while they were counted allowed George Allen to speak. This not only would have saved several hours but also there would have been a loud excited crowd for Allen to speak to. As it was many of the Marshall people had already left when Allen spoke and most of the others were not paying attention. Also the secretary was so slow it almost put us to sleep.
Over all though it was a great experience and I can wait untell next year to do it again. I don't mind the drive or the money spent if its for a good cause.