Kelly Golden

Kelly Golden

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Caucus Chaos!

Downloading riot

PHOTO: Getty Images

Could Iowa Caucuses Nightmare Make Case for Open Primaries?

Monday night's Iowa caucuses were a logistical and practical nightmare as precincts struggled to report results, there were inconsistencies in the data that was reported, and the phone app and backup phone system that was meant to facilitate the reporting was an utter failure.

Neal Simon - former Independent candidate for a Maryland U.S. Senate seat and author of the new book, Contract to Unite America: Ten Reforms to Reclaim Our Republic - asserts that Monday night's debacle in Iowa is further proof that our election system needs to be overhauled and replaced with a nationally standardized open primary system. He sent me his talking points. Take a look and tell me what you think:

The Iowa caucuses are the perfect example of an antiquated electoral system that is in desperate need of reform. In the year 2020, in the most technologically advanced country in the world, the kick off to our election season should not be mired in party officials tripping over phone wires, on hold for hours, to report paper results that came from caucuses in a school gym. While the logistics are clearly flawed, what is even more of an issue is the system itself that rewards the loudest, most extreme voices.
All primaries should be open to all registered voters, regardless of party affiliation. By keeping primaries closed to just registered members of the party, we are giving party nominations to the most extreme factions of the party. In districts that heavily favor one party, the primary becomes more important than the general. That is how we ended up with AOC. She won her primary by attracting just under 17,000 votes in a district with nearly 700,000 residents - just 4.8% of registered voters. If we had open primaries other more moderate and independent voices could have driven the conversation back to the center.
The way our system is currently set up, the rules vary from state to state. The infrastructure a candidate needs to win Iowa are completely different from what is needed to be competitive in South Carolina. There isn't even a federal standard for the amount of signatures a candidate needs to get access to the ballot in each state.

Simon says with such an arcane and inconsistent system, it is nearly impossible for independent candidates to gain any traction without the financial assistance of national party bosses. What do you think? Does he make a good case for 'Open Primaries'?

Neal Simon was an independent candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland in 2018, polling as high as 18 percent in the three-way race. In 2016, Simon and his family were recognized by Interfaith Works, a leading non-profit that helps low income families, as Humanitarians of the Year. Simon is an engaged advocate for political reform, and serves on the boards of BPC Action (Bipartisan Policy Center), Stand Up Republic, and Unite America. He recently penned an oped in USA Today titled, "Voters need more third-party options. Americans should demand it".

And a little something funny to mask all of the chaos:

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