Democrats and Republicans have done their share of complaining about Ohio’s election favoring one party over the other. The finger-pointing started in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. It hasn’t stopped in the 14 years that followed, even though time and again their accusations have proven fruitless.
Don’t get the idea, however, that this means Ohio’s elective process is fair. It is far from being so. This is illustrated every year in the primary election, which shuns the state’s independent voters by providing them two “take it or leave it” choices:
• Should they wish to vote for a particular candidate, he or she is forced to join a “pre-approved” political organization, namely the Democrats or Republicans.
• If they choose to keep their independent status, they then are limited to voting only on state and local issues.
Ohioans should find it absurd that such an anti-democratic process is happening in a so-called democracy. Fortunately there is an organization, Independent Ohio, which is working to change the state’s voting system. Founded by Cynthia Carpathios, of Canton, it is affiliated with IndependentVoting.org, a national strategy and organizing center for the independent movement.
Independent Ohio is pushing for an alternative approach to Ohio’s private party primary. It is calling for a Top Two non-partisan primary, where all Ohio candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are on a single ballot, and all voters vote on this ballot. The top two vote-getters would go on to the general election.
There’s nothing radical about such a system, unless one is concerned with weakening the power of political bosses in the Democrat and Republican parties.
Such a system works. We’ve seen it on the local levels throughout Ohio. On a state level, such a system in California has resulted in more competitive elections, less legislative gridlock and candidates’ attentiveness to their entire constituent base.
A recent Gallup poll shows 42 percent of Americans identify themselves as independent, making the issue all the more urgent as a large and growing segment of the electorate is marginalized in its voting powers by partisan primary systems.
Carpathios will be using Tuesday’s Primary Election to draw attention to the organization’s movement. As she says, “We want to make independent voters visible at a time when we are most invisible.”
Independent Ohio will be holding an informational picket at the Secretary of State’s office in Columbus to rally people to write state legislators and to gather signatures that support their cause.
“A change is clearly needed, so that the voices of millions of independent voters who do not now have full voting rights can be heard,” Carpathios said. “We hope to lead the way to a government less hampered by partisanship and more able to move ahead with the business of our country.”
Independent Ohio has a mountain to climb if it is to change Ohio’s primary. While daunting, such a task begins with that first step, such as the one Independent Ohio will be taking in 10 days.
People wanting more information about Independent Ohio can contact Carpathios: Email: email@example.com, in the Web: independentohio.org and phone number 330-596-7529.
— Civitas Media