Tax Dollars for Primaries

Tax Dollars for Primaries

by Michael Earl Patton

If you voted in Cincinnati in the recent primary election you surely noticed that there were no issues being decided.  Every box on the ballot that you could fill in had to do with a party primary – for a race either for the Democrat, Green, or Republican parties.  These 3 parties were in the primary election because they were the only three which received a certain minimum percentage of the vote for the Ohio governor race last year.

What wonderful publicity this created for the Republicans and Democrats!  (The Greens have not received anything close to a proportional share from the media.)  Here we are with a primary election that is mandated by state law and paid for by us taxpayers.  The news media have covered this like the play-offs to the baseball World Series.  They concentrate on the two major parties as if they were the only possible choices, just like there are only two major baseball leagues that can participate in the World Series.  This reinforces the perception that no other choice is possible.

Here are a couple of proposals.  One is that the political parties pay for their primaries, or at least a portion of it.  There were a handful of jurisdictions in Hamilton County that had issues on the ballot – Fairfax, for example, had an operating levy.  The Village of Fairfax will be charged for the extra expense involved for the additional work by the Hamilton County Board of Elections.  A small change would be to charge the parties for this work in the same way.  Most of the cost – such as the poll workers — would still be paid by the taxpayer, but at least some would be paid by the political parties.  If the parties don’t want to pay any of the costs, then they can hold a convention or do private voting, perhaps electronically.  After all, that is what the parties that didn’t make the minimum cut-off have to do.  That is what the Libertarians, Socialist, and Constitution parties have to do.  Why, just because your party is big, should you get a free ride?

Another proposal is to put ALL the choices on a single ballot.  As it was this time and in most years, there are races in which I am interested in at least two parties.  But I can only choose the ballot for one party.  I would love to be able to choose among the Democrats in some races and among the Republicans or Greens in others.  But I can’t.  If the parties were paying for a part of this I could understand, but they don’t.  Yet they are making the rules.  Why don’t we taxpayers make the rules?

Finally, some party officials have been saying that the choice for presidential candidate lies with party insiders, not the public.   Some Republicans have been pointing out that they have the power to change the rules before the convention, with the aim of denying Donald Trump a first-round victory.  Some Democrats pointed out earlier that it really doesn’t matter if Bernie Sanders won most of the states since the so-called super-delegates – chosen by party insiders and not the voters in the primaries – hold the decisive power.

So again, why are we taxpayers financing the entire cost of the political primaries if they are just for show?  This needs to change.


March 15, 2016

There are no issues to be decided today in today’s primary in the City of Cincinnati.  There are no boxes to fill in.  You may feed this sheet of paper into the scanner but nothing will be recorded.  This polling station is open and the poll workers are here because Ohio state law requires them for certain political party primary elections.  These political party elections are the only elections taking place today within the City of Cincinnati.  If you are not voting in a party primary, there is nothing for you to vote upon.

Thank you for coming.  Your tax dollars are at work today supporting the political process.