Connect with us

News

Fixing Washington with California-style ‘jungle’ primaries

The typical U.S. House district is home to approximately 590,000 eligible voters. But how many of them actually participate in the election of their representative? One would think maybe half or even a quarter, but the reality is much bleaker.

In recent years, we have seen examples where the representative for a congressional district was effectively chosen by a tiny fraction of eligible voters. For instance, in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District in 2020, only 43,813 people who voted in the Republican primary ended up determining the representative — a mere 8% of eligible voters. Similarly, in New York’s 14th District in 2018, just 16,898 people who voted in the Democratic primary chose the representative, representing only 5% of eligible voters. In both cases, the dominant party’s primary was essentially the election that mattered.

These scenarios have resulted in representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have significantly influenced the priorities and direction of their parties. They are beneficiaries of a system that favors candidates who can appeal to a small yet dedicated base in heavily partisan districts.

Research by Unite America has shown that only 8% of voters nationwide participate in the primaries that determine the outcomes of 83% of House contests. This is a concerning statistic that highlights the significant influence of primaries on our political landscape.

The root of the problem lies in the partisan primary system, which tends to lock out independent voters and give disproportionate power to extreme factions within parties. This results in a Congress that is less representative of the diverse views of the American population and less inclined to seek bipartisan solutions to pressing issues.

Nonpartisan primaries, like the ones held in California, offer a different approach to elections. By allowing all voters to participate in a single primary where candidates are listed regardless of party affiliation, these primaries can promote greater inclusivity and ensure that candidates must appeal to a broader spectrum of voters.

Abolishing partisan primaries and adopting nonpartisan primaries can uphold the principles of fairness and accountability in our electoral system. It can empower voters of all political persuasions and encourage candidates to seek broad-based support.

The road to primary reform does not require sweeping federal legislation. Instead, incremental changes at the state level can have a transformative impact on our political landscape. By implementing nonpartisan primaries in additional states, we can begin to shift the balance away from extreme partisanship.

With a critical mass of legislators freed from the constraints of partisan primaries, we can envision a Congress that is more conducive to cooperation and problem-solving. By electing representatives who are accountable to a diverse electorate, we can pave the way for a more functional and inclusive democracy.

Abolishing partisan primaries is not a cure-all for our political woes, but it is a necessary step towards mitigating the harmful effects of hyperpartisanship. By following the example set by states like California, we can work towards a more balanced and representative political system.

Nick Troiano is the author of “The Primary Solution: Rescuing Our Democracy From the Fringes,” and the executive director of Unite America, a philanthropic venture fund that invests in nonpartisan election reform.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Forest Lawn Drive now free of RV encampment and parking

Nancy Sexton was thrilled when city crews cleared out more than 50 RVs in December that had been parked near her business for months, blocking parking spots and leaving behind trash and waste on Forest Lawn Drive.

Then she realized the long stretch of road near Barham Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills was suddenly off limits for not just parked RVs, but all parked vehicles. Much of the curb was painted red. No parking signs lined the sidewalk.

“It’s a dumb decision,” said Sexton, who owns the Muse Rooms, which offers leased office spaces. “It’s frustrating.”

The more than 50 RVs, which had been stationed along the winding road for months as a semi-permanent living encampment, were removed in December as part of the city’s operation known as Inside Safe. One goal of the program, which is part of Mayor Karen Bass’ initiative to bring people living on the streets indoors, is to end the cycle of homeless encampments being cleared by the city only to return a few weeks later.

But days after the RVs were removed, Sexton said, the curb was painted red and parking was limited. The new red zone is about a quarter mile long, running between Warner Bros. Studios’ Gate 9 entrance and North Coyote Canyon Drive.

The areas that do allow parking, meanwhile, have two-hour limits.

City officials also said the decision to restrict parking was done out of fire safety concerns, not to keep the RVs from resettling along the road. Sexton has her doubts.

The lack of parking along the street suddenly imposed a new, unexpected expense on her clients, prompting some to look elsewhere. The red curb has also become an irritation for some students and workers at the New York Film Academy and businesses nearby.

A road with RVs lining its right side.

RVs are parked on Forest Lawn Drive on June 27, 2023, in Burbank.

(David McNew/Getty Images)

Since the no-parking signs went up, Sexton said, she’s lost two regular members and two potential clients. All of them had aired concern about the lack of street parking and the added expense of paying $12 a day at the parking structure on site.

The parking fee, Sexton said, doubled the monthly costs for some members.

“I didn’t know how much of a problem it was going to be until there were people saying, ‘I can’t pay $12 a day,’ ” she said. “I’m really feeling it now.”

The situation highlights some of the unintended results as city officials look to address homelessness and the concerns of businesses and homeowners affected by makeshift encampments, whether they involve tents, vehicles, or both.

RV encampments have sprung up across the city amid a housing crisis that has left many people priced out of permanent homes. Local officials have looked for ways to address the issue, including new regulations that have targeted overnight RV parking.

According to the mayor’s office, the Inside Safe program has addressed 39 encampments so far, moving more than 2,400 people into interim housing and an additional 440 into permanent housing since December 2022.

Bass spokesperson Zach Seidl said the RVs that were removed from Forest Lawn Drive were themselves causing parking issues in the area, as well as raising other significant safety and public health concerns.

Members of the surrounding community have said removing the RVs “has helped on all three fronts,” Seidl said in a statement. “This operation has saved lives.

Stella Stahl, spokesperson for Councilmember Nithya Raman, said the city has helped many of the RV residents along Forest Lawn Drive to find housing indoors.

In a statement, Stahl credited the decision to limit parking to a request by the Los Angeles Fire Department, which called the area a “high fire severity zone.” A 2019 brush fire in the area burned more than 30 acres and threatened homes and businesses.

In a Sept. 19, 2023, letter, LAFD Assistant Chief Dean Zipperman asked the city Department of Transportation to install “Tow Away No Stopping Any Time” restrictions on the road due to the stopped and parked vehicles there.

To avoid the hassle of looking for parking, cinematography students Sanchin Vinay, Yifan Xiang, and Davide Picci carpool to their classes at the New York Film Academy, which shares a building with the Muse Rooms. Eliminating the RVs has opened some spots to them, although Picci said they’d been able to find spaces on the street before — “really far down.”

A couch on a sidewalk near an RV.

The curb along Forest Lawn Drive, where someone has left a couch.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Sometimes they pay the $12 for the daily parking to avoid being late for class. Carpooling helps cushion the cost.

Leslie Bates, a film production instructor, said she heard of students and faculty members having “volatile” interactions with the RV residents.

Now that the RVs have

Continue Reading

Featured

News3 hours ago

Forest Lawn Drive now free of RV encampment and parking

Nancy Sexton was thrilled when city crews cleared out more than 50 RVs in December that had been parked near...

News4 hours ago

Alaska Ambler Road Project Denied by Interior Department

The decision by the Interior Department to reject the Ambler Road Project in Alaska is a significant win for environmentalists...

News6 hours ago

House speaker receives additional request from GOP member to resign or be ousted

House Speaker Faces New Call by Another Republican to Step Down or Face Removal House Speaker Johnson says he’s not...

News7 hours ago

NASA is reevaluating the Mars Sample Return Mission as current plans face setbacks

Spaceflight is not the easiest of enterprises, and NASA has recently announced a change in plans for the Mars Sample...

News9 hours ago

View Park-Windsor Hills experiences a 2.8 magnitude earthquake

On Tuesday at 8:19 a.m. Pacific time, a magnitude 2.8 earthquake rattled the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles,...

News10 hours ago

Some Rioters Already Freed as Supreme Court Reviews Jan. 6 Charge

Follow live coverage of the Jan. 6 obstruction case at the Supreme Court. The review of an obstruction law by...

Entertainment10 hours ago

Caitlin Clark’s Prada ensemble at WNBA draft impressed boyfriend Connor McCaffery

Caitlin Clark made a statement at the 2024 WNBA Draft that went beyond her incredible basketball skills. The young athlete,...

News13 hours ago

Renowned Physicist Peter Higgs Passes Away at 94

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Professor Peter Higgs at the age of 94....

News14 hours ago

Judge rules that Los Angeles officials manipulated records during homeless camp cleanups

A federal judge has found that Los Angeles city officials altered evidence to support the city’s defense against allegations that...

News15 hours ago

Fire Causes Partial Collapse of Historic Old Stock Exchange Building in Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange Building, also known as Borsen, is a historic landmark in the city that has stood for...

Advertisement

Facebook

Trending