Views from Kansas: The way to do primary voting
Editor’s Note: Views from Kansas is a regular feature that highlights editorials and other viewpoints from across the state.
In next year’s presidential primary, Kansas Democrats will be test-driving a balloting process called ranked-choice voting that should increase turnout and be plain old good for our democracy.
This is how you’d run an election if you actually wanted the fullest possible participation and fairest possible representation, and we hope it catches on around the country.
This method of voting makes a “wasted” vote impossible.
Here’s how it will work: On Saturday, May 2, Democratic voters in Kansas will rank their first, second and third choices — all the way down to 24th, or however many presidential candidates are on the ballot.
If your top pick gets less than 15% of all of the first-choice votes, then those votes are redistributed to second-choice candidates, and so on, until only those candidates with 15% or more of the votes are still in the running. Delegates are awarded proportionally among these candidates, rather than in a winner-take-all system.
The Kansas Democrats are doing other things to make voting as simple as possible: They’re holding the primary on a Saturday, at voting centers across the state.
They’re allowing same-day registration and allowing 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election in November to vote in the primary.
State law requires voters to show a photo ID. But those registering that day will be given a federal voter registration form that does not require the same proof of citizenship — a birth certificate, for instance — that the state forms do.
So at least for now, the chaos of the Democratic caucus is a thing of the past in Kansas, and good riddance.
Now, voters who want to skip the speeches can vote, vamoose and get on with their lives.
Kansas Republicans are considering canceling their caucus altogether next year, even though President Donald Trump does have at least one primary challenger in former Massachusetts governor William Weld.
Ranked-choice voting is an antidote to anti-democratic efforts to make voter registration harder, suppress the vote, overturn the clear will of the voters on ballot initiatives like Clean Missouri and like Florida’s historic recent decision to allow restore voting rights to those who’ve served time. (Now, the Sunshine State is trying to effectively nullify that vote by saying that a felon can only get his voting rights back by paying “all fines, fees and restitution” — fines so onerous that this new requirement amounts to an electoral debtor’s prison.)
The May 2 primary in Kansas comes so late in the nominating process — a full three months after the earliest contest — that it may not matter much in terms of picking the 2020 Democratic nominee. But in showing how a presidential primary could and should be run, Kansas might be doing something that’s just as important.
— Originally published in The Kansas City Star