Argument: The complicated primary system creates confusion and turns voters off

Issue Report: Primaries in US elections


  • Less than 10% of voters participate in the primaries

Center for Politics & Public Affairs, Franklin & Marshall University, March 23, 2007 “What’s wrong with our national system of presidential nominations? A better question might be: What isn’t wrong with it? Unfortunately, not much.Originally a democratic reform produced by the Progressive Era in the early 20th century to wrest presidential nominations from party bosses and take nomination decisions out of smoke filled rooms–it now has become a confused clutter of chaotic contests costing millions, lasting seemingly forever, and interesting very few.It’s a process gone awry.Essentially, the presidential nominating process has mutated into a two-year marathon campaign extravaganza, stoked by big media, sustained by the need to raise big money, and ignored by most voters. In fact, less than one in ten voters participated in 2004.”

  • Current system means votes have different values in different states, October 8, 2007 “The whole stinking process was designed by dead men in smoky parlors and refined by faceless bureaucrats in hotel conference rooms. It is a nasty brew born of those caldrons of self-interest known as political parties. At every stage, advantage is parceled out like so much magic potion. “The national interest is not considered in any form,” says University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. “Everything is left up to an ad hoc decision. It’s chaotic.” That is not an exaggeration. Consider this: If you are a Republican, your vote for the presidential nominee will be worth more in Tennessee than in New York. If you are a Democrat, your vote in the primary will not count in Florida and is unlikely to count in Michigan. If you are a Republican in Wyoming, you probably won’t get to vote at all, since only party officials have a say.”