Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2007

Caucuses give Kansas options to primaries

August 23, 2007

Presidential politics have been an everyday item in the news for a year and debates seem as commonplace as NASCAR races.

With all the attention, it's difficult to remember the election still is more than 14 months in the future and the first primary about six months removed. That could be a sign that for the first time since 1952, neither an incumbent president or vice president is running, leaving a open field.

Despite some talk in the Legislature last year of a primary, it never got traction and there isn't time to put together an election when the Legislature returns to Topeka next January.

Arguments for a primary include the added inducement to bring candidates to the state and, in so doing, bring them up to speed on issues important to Kansas.

Critics point to the cost, an estimated $2 million, and question how meaningful a Kansas primary would be in the two parties nomination process, either because nominations already have been decided or because the importance given to larger states.

In terms of convenience, there is no question a primary is far preferable than the caucus system. Even in primaries with fewer polling places, a voting booth can be found somewhere in the neighborhood. To attend a caucus, party faithful might have to travel to another city or county.

But for those looking for a meaningful political experience, the caucus system has much to recommend it. The politicking that is forbidding at the polling place is welcome and unavoidable at party caucuses. Those attending are confronted by conflicting viewpoints and debate. Because of the relatively few party members in attendance, the importance of individual voters gets added emphasis and personal appeals to sway votes are commonplace.

We would agree primaries are preferable and cost shouldn't be a consideration to the exercise of democracy. But we would remind voters the absence of a primary doesn't eliminate their chance to participate in the nomination process.

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