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Link to Video of Montana Testimony on Top-Two Primary Bill

Published on February 24, 2013, by in General.

Here is a link to either audio or video of the testimony for and against the Montana top-two primary bill, HB 436. It lasts approximately 30 minutes. Thanks to Mike Fellows for the link. As has previously been reported, the bill was defeated by the House State Administration Committee a few days after the hearing.

15 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    The Montana legislature only meets every two years, for four months, including 6-day weeks. There is a deadline of February 28 for a chamber to pass out its bills. So a lot of the hearings this past week were just to ensure a hearing, and necessary if a bill was to get out of committee.

    Most of the (State Administration) committee hearing on the 21st was executive action. Unlike in some states where executive action is procedural, and simply intended to ensure quorums and recorded votes, there was quite a bit of discussion of the bills being voted on. HB 436 was discussed beginning around the 3-hour mark in meeting on the 21st.

    Particular problems that the legislators had was the “complexity” of the ballot. The ballot is “complicated” because it includes party offices and the presidential preferences primary. But Washington uses a quite similar system for electing party offices, and there were no concerns raised. The real solution of course is to remove the party offices from the ballot. If the political parties are not going to use the results of the presidential primary for delegate selection (and they can’t be required to do so) it is a total waste of taxpayer funds to include it. It would also permit the election to be moved to August or September.

    One senator did not want Montana to “be like California”. Perhaps you should campaign to keep Top 2 in California. California is a more effective bogeyman than a elderly southern gentleman who served 8-years in federal prison. I’m pretty sure that “Washington” would not be as effective as “California” in this regard.

    Two senators placed in the legislative record that they knew that cross-party raiding occurred under the current Pick-A-Party primary. This would likely be used in a lawsuit based on ‘Idaho Republican Party v. Ysursa’, which forced neighboring Idaho to dump its Pick-A-Party primary and imposed party registration as a requirement for voting. Montana might be worse since it forces voters to affiliate with a party in order to vote for non-partisan officials.

    I think a lot of the problem was that the bill was heard near the deadline, and it ended up being a quite lengthy bill. In Montana, a candidate files a “declaration of nomination” to be placed on the primary ballot. This meant that all references to “declaration of nomination” had to be modified to “declaration of candidacy”.

    There was another bill that would radically change the legislative calendar. Currently, legislators are elected in November of the even year, go to Helena for four months in the odd year, and consider all legislation and pass a 2-year budget, and then go home, other than serving for interim study committees. They then go home, and file for (re)-election in February. Because of term limits, many legislators are new, and are forced to vote on the budget right at the beginning of the term.

    The proposed bill would move the substantive portion of the regular session to the middle of the term. The start would interfere with hunting season, and the end would interfere with candidate filing season. The Secretary of State was opposed to the bill because of this. She apparently has not figured out why Montana was sued over its early filing deadline for independent candidates, or why Montana had an early filing deadline.

  2. Be Rational

    I guess that the people in MT are harder to fool than in Washington State:

    Good news for Montana and the USA.

    “Top-two” is evil.
    It violates the rights of voters to choose among all candidates in the general election.
    It violates the freedom of association rights of all people to form parties and run candidates that will appear in the general election.
    It violates the freedom of association rights of those individuals who join together and form parties to choose their own candidates.

    “Top-two” is an attempt to impose a one-party state as in the old USSR.
    By creating a single primary that will force all individuals to participate in the single party or be left out.
    Having a single primary means that the participants will behave as they do in a single party.
    Eventually there will be a de facto one-party system.
    Only one state-controlled party will be allowed to place 2 candidates on the ballot.
    Everyone else is excluded.

    Everyone should oppose “top-two.”

    It’s time to repeal “top-two” – in any form – everywhere it has been passed.

  3. Jim Riley

    #2 Voters are free to choose from among all candidates who file for the office at the first (or primary) stage of the election.

    It does not violate the freedom of association rights of people to organize to support the candidacy of those seeking an office.

    I’ve never heard a candidate say that they were being run by a party.

    It does not violate the freedom of association rights of people to organize political parties, nor for those political parties to recruit, endorse, and support candidates for office.

  4. Be Rational

    Riley, are you deliberately obtuse?

    1) The primary is not the general election. It is at the general election – in November – where all candidates must appear. Voters have the right to expect that all available candidates and party nominess will appear in November.

    You cannot resolve this. To have free elections, all candidates and party nominees must appear in November.

    2) “Top-two” violates the right of individuals to form a Political Party because only the canidates of the state-controlled “top-two” party are allowed on the ballot in November. All others are excluded. So, all other parties are obviated.

    3) “Top-two” violates the right of parties to recruit, endorse and support candidates for public office because they are not allowed on the November ballot and because the purpose of the party is to choose a single member to represent that party in that single member district. This can be accomplished by a party convention or party primary controlled by that party. Without the ability to choose THEIR OWN candidates, the party no longer exists as a party because it cannot perform its primary function.

  5. Be Rational

    Finally, because “top-two” violates the freedom of association rights of individuals and parties guaranteed under the US Constitution, “top-two” should be declared unconstitutional.

  6. Be Rational

    “Top-two” is evil.

    “Top-two” cannot be repaired or justified. It violates the rights of parties and individual candidates and voters.

    “Top-two” must be opposed and abolished wherever it has been adopted.

  7. Jim Riley

    #4 “primary” is an adjective meaning “first”. A primary election is the first stage of a multistage election.

    If all candidates appeared on the general election ballot, there would be no reason for a primary. Was Lisa Murkowski a candidate? If so, why wasn’t her name on the general election ballot.

    Groups of voters, whether organized as a party are not are free to recruit and endorse a candidate for public office under Top 2.

    What you apparently want is for your party to be able to order the Secretary of State to exclude certain candidates from the ballot.

  8. Be Rational

    Most voters ignore the primary because it is NOT the first part of the electoral process. It is a step whereby groups of voters organized into parties can choose candidates they wish to endorse as a group. Most voters ignore this step and wait for the actual candidates to appear in the REAL ELECTION in November.

    Under the evil “top-two” system there is only one party and one primary. ALL other candidates and parties are excluded in the actual election.

    Lisa Murkowski choose to seek the nomination of an orgainzed party. The party chose another candidate. She left the party but under state of AK rules she was too late to appear on the ballot. So, she chose to exercise her right, not allowed in some states, to run as a write-in candidate and she won in the REAL election in November where the voters actually vote for the nominated (by party or self) candidates.

    *******

    1) The primary is not the general election. It is at the general election – in November – where all candidates must appear. Voters have the right to expect that all available candidates and party nominess will appear in November.

    You cannot resolve this. To have free elections, all candidates and party nominees must appear in November.

    2) “Top-two” violates the right of individuals to form a Political Party because only the canidates of the state-controlled “top-two” party are allowed on the ballot in November. All others are excluded. So, all other parties are obviated.

    3) “Top-two” violates the right of parties to recruit, endorse and support candidates for public office because they are not allowed on the November ballot and because the purpose of the party is to choose a single member to represent that party in that single member district. This can be accomplished by a party convention or party primary controlled by that party. Without the ability to choose THEIR OWN candidates, the party no longer exists as a party because it cannot perform its primary function.

    ******

    “Top-two” is evil.

    “Top-two” cannot be repaired or justified. It violates the rights of parties and individual candidates and voters.

    “Top-two” is a plan to end free elections in America and impose a single, state-controlled party with a single primary resulting in no choice at all in the general election.

    Only the candidates selected by one party will be allowed on the ballot – all other parties including Democrats, Republicans, third parties and independent candidates are excluded.

    “Top-two” is the same as the system used in the old USSR.

    “Top-two” must be opposed everywhere and abolished wherever it has been adopted.

  9. Jim Riley

    #8 In Be-Rationaland you have to the permission of the State to endorse a candidate?

    Ordinary Decent Citizen (ODC): Are you going to vote in the election to decide who replaces Jesse Jackson, Jr.?

    Be Rational (BR): Bleet! The real election isn’t until April. Bleet!

    ODC: Yeah, but the Democratic primary will decide who wins.

    BR: Bleet! No the Democratic primary will decide the nominee of the Democratic party. You should ignore it. Bleet!

    ODC: So are you going to vote in a primary?

    BR: Bleet! Bleet! Bleet!

    ODC: You aren’t making any sense. You’re just bleeting.

    BR: Bleet! Oh, sorry. I just get so excited about comparing someone to a Soviet agent, I just go off bleeting. Bleet!

  10. Be Rational

    @9 You’re the one blathering Riley.

    It’s true that the Democratic Party primary did ONLY decide the Democratic party nominee. The Republicans also have a candidate and other candidates had the option to file – although the requirements to run are too steep in IL – another issue.

    Most people did ignore the Primary. That is a fact. You are obviously a fool since you ignore reality.

    The REAL election is in April. That is a fact. Again you foolishly ignore reality.

    It’s true that most voters in this district tend to be Yellow Dog Democrats. But that doesn’t change the facts above.

    What would be worse – far worse – however, would be to change to a one-party system where the only party allowed would be the evil, state-controlled “top-two” party, advocated by the power elite and their shills – That’s you Riley – in order to take over the electoral system, end free elections in America and make sure that there is only one primary, one party and no choice at all in the General election.

  11. Jim Riley

    #10 The US Constitution says that when there is a vacancy, the governor should issue writs of election to fill the vacancy,

    Before there were government-printed ballots, voters would show up the polling place, and write the name of the candidate they favored on a piece of paper. The votes would be counted, and the winner would be announced. Some States required a majority for election, and if no candidate received a majority of the vote, there would be another election (trial).

    There was no filing. After a while a candidate might actively run for office, or groups would recruit someone to run, and encourage voters to voter for him.

    After it was decided that printed ballots could be used, groups would print ballots and hand them out to voters. Sometimes there would be two groups calling themselves by the same name who would support different candidates. If they didn’t like it, they could go beat up the supporters of the other group, or keep them from distributing their ballots.

    But with government-printed ballots, that was supposed to change. Under the original system used in South Australia, a candidate needed a nominator and seconder (two persons) to be place on the ballot.

    But the parties didn’t like this, because they no longer could beat up their opponents to keep ballots from being distributed. So they invented ballot access barriers. Candidates had to be the “nominee” of a “party”.

    The legislators who were elected with the support of the parties liked this system, so they passed more laws with the intent to keep challengers off the ballot.

    Top-2 returns to the the original system where anyone could become a candidate, and married it with the government-printed ballot. Because they wanted to ensure majority election, they had a first, or primary stage, that would choose two candidates who advance to a second election.

  12. Be Rational

    Riley, you are a deliberately trying to fool people into following you into a totalitarian America. “Top-two” comprises the end of free elections. Eventually, “top-two” brings the end of liberty. Period.

    “Top-two” does NOT return to the original system of what America had prior to the Australian ballot. In fact that would be a fine change. Do away with government printed ballots. Let anyone run. Let every voter submit a single piece of paper as a ballot and after the voting – at the General Election on Election Day only – count the paper ballots. Plurality voting in single member districts. Few offices to be elected. Go for it Riley.

    “Top-two” comprises more restrictions on the process than any since the fall of the old USSR.

    Under “top-two” there is one primary. That’s what you have when you have one party. That means the system will operate as if there was only one party. This is the inescapable outcome of a single primary – a one party state. There will be an increase in regulation as to who can appear on the ballot sincle the party is state contolled and only members of that single party can run in the single primary. Only party members of the single “top-two” party can appear on the real election ballot – the General election. All other parties and independents are eliminated under “top-two.”

    “Top-two” moves America away from its Roots as a nation of free elections and toward a clever, sneaky system, through the aegis of state control of a single party – the “Top-two” party – with a single primary, to allow the power elite to control the entire operation of the single, one-party system and present only two candidates pre-selected by the power elite to appear on the General Election ballot.

    “Top-two” is evil.

    “Top-two” creates a one-party state as in the old USSR.

    Under “top-two” the only party allowed to place candidates on the ballot for the General Election in November is the “Top-two” party.

    All other candidates – Democrat, Republican, all third parties and Independents are excluded.

    “Top-two” must be stopped and repealed wherever passed.

  13. Jim Riley

    #12 If anyone could vote for any candidate, what does it matter if the first election is in June, or in November?

    What does it matter whether a majority is required?

    What does it matter whether there are few or many offices?

    What does it matter whether the offices are single or multimember?

    The only reason that the candidates endorsed by the Beer Rat party don’t advance to the second election is because they receive fewer votes than other candidates.

  14. Be Rational

    1) November is the General Election. The only one voters care about. Too many elections cause participation to fall off leading to corruption of the system.

    2) Complex electoral systems preclude comprehension by the electorate leading to fraud by government officials and insiders. This is why the power elite and their henchmen, such as you, advocate a variety of complicated systems. Worst of all, and not to be forgotten, is the evil, corrupt attempt at control by the power elite known as “top-two.”

    3) When there are too many offices to be voted on – more than 10 is absolutely too many (maybe fewer than 10 is too many)- it becomes impossible for most voters to follow the issues or evaluate the candidates. The electorate becomes unable to make informed choices. Elections no longer have value as democratic methods of choosing.

    4) Multimember districts are too prone to complicated electoral campaign and voting strategies leading to perverse outcomes. These are beyond the comprehension of most voters who are manipulated by the power elite by the system itself.

    5) Every party – including the Beer party, if they choose to run a candidate – deserves to have their candidate on the ballot in the general election.

    Every voter has the right to choose among all the candidates presented by each party and independent candidates at the General Election – in November.

    Creating a one-party state where the only party allowed to run candidates is the “Top-two” party – as you advocate – is a violation of the rights of voters and candidates.

    Riley, you can no longer fool the people. It is time for you to report back to your masters that the people are wise to you and they will not tolerate this take-over of America by your state-run, one-party, evil, power elite “top-two” scheme.

    “Top-two” is evil.

    “Top-two” creates a one-party state as in the old USSR.

    Under “top-two” the only party allowed to place candidates on the ballot for the General Election in November is the “Top-two” party.

    All other candidates – Democrat, Republican, all third parties and Independents are excluded.

    Under “top-two” the voters have no choice other than the candidates of the “Top-two” party.

    “Top-two” must be stopped and repealed wherever passed.

  15. Jim Riley

    1) Be Rational’s model citizen:

    “OMG, is it November already. I was wondering why the re-run of Dynasty wasn’t being aired. Oh well, I’ll guess I’ll vote. Who’s running? Obama? Didn’t we already elect him. I don’t know why we keep having to have so many elections. (Yawns), cancelling the re-runs of Dynasty is really stressful and exhausting.

    Who else is running. Who chose these guys. I guess I’ll vote for the Beer Rat guy. Now that I’ve stopped corruption, can I go back to sleep?”

    2) Jim Riley’s model citizen:

    “Who is running for office? I’ll vote for those I think will best serve my country, state, county, or city. I don’t understand why some voters think that it so hard to vote twice in one year. Actually, most voters don’t regard it as a burden. It is just enablers like Be Rational who makes it sound like one. He is probably in the SEIU and wants to control the Democrat primary by suppressing turnout.

    If my candidate is not in the Top 2, then I’ll make a new selection at the general election. And even if my favorite advances, I’ll have a fresh opportunity to evaluate the candidates.”

    You didn’t explain why majority election was bad.

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