Three points for changes
Published 7:32 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2004
If you're registered as an independent voter in Alabama, we're sorry you didn't get to vote in the school board, county commission or district attorney races Tuesday.
Your voice was not heard because you were not allowed to vote in either primary.
If you were registered as a Republican on Tuesday, you had no choices in voting for these local races either. We're sorry about that too.
These issues come down to three problems we are experiencing here in Escambia County.
First, is the issue of closed primaries. In Alabama, if you're registered as an independent voter, you're locked out of Democratic and Republican primaries.
As Staff Writer Lindsey Sherrill writes on this page today, she found out first hand with her experience just across the state line in Florida what it means to be registered as an independent.
Alabama should open its primary balloting procedures to allow independents the choice to vote in local primary races. With so many counties dominated by one party or another, these independents often have no say in what become final elections for many influential local positions.
It's an old law meant to shore up the two-party system in our opinion. At the very least, crossover voting should be allowed for local races.
The second issue is the near complete dominance of a single party in Escambia County. On one level, it makes no difference which party it is. With a single party so historically dominant, it can skew power into the hands of a smaller number of voters.
Of course, we know the Democratic Party is the dominant party in Escambia County, as it is and has been in many many southern counties since the Civil War. But nationally, Escambia County hasn't gone Democratic since voting for Jimmy Carter in 1976. It's high time the people of this county really assessed where their philosophy sits, and register that way, instead of following common tradition. We need more than one party in this county. Competition can be a healthy thing.
The third issue is partisan races for local positions like District Attorney, Board of Education. Sheriff, etc. When it comes to such local, relatively confined races for these kinds of positions, do we really need to vote along party lines? Many progressive states have since moved to non-partisan races for things like school board seats. We fail to see where partisan politics helps when deciding these types of positions.
The time to change has come and we should call for it loud and clear.