Opinion

Our Voice: Top-two primary election is a good test for nation

Doc Hastings held onto his 4th District seat for 20 years. Whoever we send to Washington next could be there for a long time as well.

This is an important race for the Mid-Columbia.

Beyond that, it also is an important test of our top-two primary system.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court approved the top-two system in 2008, whoever gets the most votes in the primary election -- regardless of party affiliation -- goes to the general election.

In November, this race will be Republican against Republican. This seems great for the Republicans, as they win either way. But other voters shouldn't feel left out.

It is vital that Democrats and Independents also get involved in this election.

If the general election follows the primary's turnout, a small percentage of the electorate will determine our next congressman.

For example, in Benton County, only 33 percent of the ballots were returned. If a candidate only needs 50 percent plus a little to win, a candidate only needs to motivate 17 percent of the voters to vote his way.

For whatever reason, 67 percent of the Mid-Columbia voters are disenfranchised. That leaves the decision making to a small group of people.

The idea behind a top-two primary is a good one. The theory is more moderate candidates will be elected. Extremists on either end of the spectrum, supposedly, will be replaced by those covering the middle ground by appealing to a broader range of voters.

In primary balloting, Clint Didier is solidly in front of Dan Newhouse.

The people who voted for them will probably vote for them again. It's the people who voted for one of the other 10 candidates -- or those who didn't vote at all -- who will make the difference in November.

The minority party and independent voters become the tipping point in the top-two system -- when it works like it's supposed to.

They are the ones who make the difference. The top-two brings the moderate candidates in either party closer to each other than they are to the fringe of their own party.

We are a litmus test for the rest of the nation. The top-two system ought to work. Come November we will see if it does. And, if so, we can show the nation a better way to vote by bringing out more voters from both parties, even if it it's two Republicans on the ballot

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