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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Louisiana "Open Primary" Bill in Compromise Committee

Louisiana has used a nonpartisan system-- popularly called the "open primary"[1]-- to elect its state and local officials since 1975. It also used this system for its congressional elections from 1978 through 2006 but then restored party primaries for Congress, starting in 2008. Now HB 292 would reinstate the "open primary" for congressional elections.

"At the urging of Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge, the sponsor of House Bill 292, the House voted 89-2 to reject changes made by Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Abbeville, in the Senate last week that would require the fall's [2010] elections to take place under the open primary scenario.

"His original House-passed bill would have set the open primary system for the 2012 congressional races. The six Republican members of the state's U. S. House delegation oppose the bill in its present form and prefer it to take effect with the 2012 elections.

"Greene said the U. S. Justice Department will have to approve the new election set-up and there is no guarantee it can be done on short notice.

"Whatever version emerges from the compromise committee has to be approved by both the House and Senate by the end of the session June 21."


Greene says that returning to the "open primary" for congressional elections will save the Bayou State about $6.6 million every two years.

My guess is that the change will take effect with the 2012 federal elections.

Washington state-- which calls it the "top two"-- is the only other state that uses a similar system to elect all of its state officials. And Washington, which first used it in 2008, is now the only state that uses it to elect its congressional delegation.

California will have a measure-- Proposition 14-- for a "top two open primary" on its June 8 ballots. This proposal is for the Golden State's congressional and state elections.

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[1] All candidates, including independents, are listed on a single ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, meet in a runoff. Under HB 292, the first round would be held on the first Tuesday in November, and the runoff would take place in early December.

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