Friday, January 7, 2011

Mark Obenshain Calls on Political Parties to Stop Burdening Localities

Every time Virginia Republicans or Democrats choose a primary to nominate their political candidates they strap localities with the cost of the process. At a time when localities are hard pressed for money, political parties that claim to be fiscally responsible should not be forcing localities to shell out large amounts of money for them to choose a candidate. Primaries are not the only way for political parties to select a nominee in Virginia. Virginia political need to stop forcing local government to subsidize their operations. Thankfully Mark Obenshain is bringing up this issue this year in the General Assembly. In a recent e-mail Obenshain introduced his idea.

Ending Subsidies to Political Parties

Virginia is in a somewhat unique situation: we don’t allow voter registration by political party, but we still pay for party primaries. And the truth is, we pay through the nose, sometimes as much as $20 per voter.

There are perfectly good alternatives. Parties often choose to nominate via convention or party canvass, or through a “firehouse primary,” in which a limited number of polling places are opened in each locality, usually for fewer hours than in a government-run election. All of these methods are common, all are relatively affordable – and all are paid for by the political parties themselves.

If a political party wants a conventional primary, fine – but they can pay for it. Our localities are burdened enough as it is. If a party cannot or will not put up that much money, they can always go with a cheaper option. Our localities can ill afford it – and under my proposal, they wouldn’t have to.

It is highly doubtful this legislation will pass. Both parties have a vested interest in keeping the system as it is. However, Maybe legislators will do the right thing, help localities, and do the right thing. No matter what this is an important issue that needs to be raised.

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