Primary season of discontent

A new generation has closely followed both the Democratic and Republican primary campaigns with interest and many times with disappointment.

The smoky back room that became a hallmark of conventions generations ago has moved to the forefront and now plays out on a 24-hour news cycle on social and traditional media. We are not endorsing any candidate, but rather saying the system is flawed for both major political parties. During this primary election cycle that began last summer, American voters are seeing how most states differ for counting delegates and little, obscure rules appear to disenfranchise voters when the final tally of delegates is counted.

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are locked in a close race with Sanders, the Vermont senator, capturing his sixth straight win (seven out of the last eight) after taking Wyoming. Based on polls, though, that momentum may slow down with the New York state primary, which Clinton now leads in the polls.

Clinton currently leads Sanders in pledged delegate votes, 1,287 to 1,037; however, throw in the Super Delegates who have or will commit to Clinton, and she leads Sanders by almost 500 delegates. The Super Delegates shows the system is flawed and disenfranchising many voters who feel a thumbs up, thumbs down kind of vote should be the only manner to select a candidate to run in the general election.

Also, we have discovered in the caucus format, if supporters of a certain candidate do not show up to a county convention, then their vote cannot be counted.

Of the 71 Churchill County delegates, 38 are Clinton supporters, while 33 favor Sanders. Statewide, though, the gap between them narrowed. After the February caucus, Hillary led the Vermont senator, 20-15, in pledged delegates, but because some of her delegates did not show up to their respective county conventions and Sanders did, the total tightened to 18 to 17. Of course, that could all change at the state convention. Would this be a further disenfranchisement to the thousands who attended their respective county causes, thinking their candidate was the winner?

Republicans are no better in states with winner-take-all primaries and screwy rules in others, like Colorado, in which delegates to the state convention selected the candidate, not the voters. Although the Trump campaign failed in organizing a grassroots campaign in Colorado, the convention gives the perception of being stacked with 34 Ted Cruz supporters. Like the Super Delegates, Colorado disenfranchises its voters.

Because each state has its own nuances and quirks of how to conduct a primary election for both the Democrat and Republican candidates, both parties must re-examine the process from this 2016 primary season and make the process more streamlined in 2020. Could you imagine if every state implemented its own rules for voters casting ballots in the general election? Chaos! Is it any wonder the majority of Americans who cast votes this year are cynical of the process and refer to it as dirty politics as usual? We aren’t.

Editorials written by the editorial board appear on Wednesdays.


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