For many years the state of Missouri has had a primary voting system that the political parties have used to select their candidates for the general election. The State of Missouri has been paying for these elections. The political parties in Missouri, as they are in all states, are private entities. So why do the taxpayers of Missouri pay for private entities to determine who their representative will be in all offices for the general election from the governor down to the county level? Shouldn’t the political parties be responsible for the cost of choosing their candidate for each elected office?
A better system of nominating candidates for the general election for all of the political parties is a caucus system. Missouri is an open primary state where you do not have to register with any political party. In open states, you can be a member of neither political party, and still participate in any political parties nomination process. Shouldn’t the nomination process be limited to those individuals that are actively involved in a specific political party? The Democrats in Missouri have a tendency to decide who is running as the Democrat nominee well before any election. Well known Democrats seldom have a challenger in a primary election. When seats become open, the party decides who is “next up” for any particular seat and that person becomes the only individual on the Democratic primary ballot. Conversely, the Republicans often have three or four individuals competing in the primary for most of the seats in the primary election. This avoids the problem with a primary vote with multiple candidates where the winner is almost guaranteed to receive a minority of the vote. This means the majority voted against the primary winner. For example, when four Republicans all ran for the gubernatorial seat in 2016, the winner only received 35% of the vote. Meaning 65% of the people voting did not want that person to win. Republicans frequently nominate the worst candidate in a field of candidates for any particular office.
There is a better way to choose all of the candidates for the general election without making the taxpayers foot the bill. The solution is a caucus system for every partisan elected office from the county level all the way up to statewide officeholders at the federal level. One of the problems with the primary elections in Missouri is that Missouri does not have closed primaries. Missouri has open primaries meaning anyone can vote in any primary election. A caucus would avoid the problem of having members of another political party crossover and vote in a different party’s primary election in order to alter the results. In a caucus system the political party can control who is at the caucus; therefore, ensuring that only members of that political party would nominate their candidate. This could be done by requiring membership in the party six months in advance of the caucus. The party could also charge dues to ensure that only regular party members attend the caucus.
There is currently a series of caucuses starting at the county level, then the Congressional district level, and eventually a statewide level caucus in order to nominate delegates to the national convention. This could be expanded at each level to nominate candidates. The county caucus would nominate all of the countywide officeholders such as sheriff, county clerk, collector of revenue, etc. If there are more than two candidates for any position, the process would be to vote successive rounds with the candidate with the lowest vote total is eliminated until there are only two. The winner of the next vote will have a majority of the caucus attendees.
If the state House and Senate districts all were within the congressional boundaries, then the caucus at the congressional level would determine the candidate for each House and Senate seat. The elimination voting would also occur at this level. When it gets to the state convention, the statewide officeholders would then undergo the same process to determine the candidate for the general election. Since auditor is elected on the mid-cycle election, some accommodation would have to be made. It would not be that much of a problem for the nominee for auditor to be decided two years ahead of schedule.
This proposed caucus system would have several advantages including: making the political parties pay for the nomination process, only having people that are committed to each political party deciding the nominees, and having the majority of the delegates to each caucus deciding their nominee for every elected political office. So let the debate begin.