Oregon’s, Like, Totally Copying Us

Our little-brother state’s hot for our “top-two” primary system.

After having all the good ideas—light rail, death with dignity, public financing of campaigns, lax liquor laws—Oregon is finally looking north for inspiration. On next week's ballot: an initiative to copy Washington's top-two primary system. And they're not just lifting our system, they're using us as guinea pigs too."We've been watching Washington quite closely," says Yes on I-65 spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn. The biggest takeaway from the results of Washington's inaugural top-two primary in August was turnout, she adds. "Forty-three percent [statewide turnout] is good," Glynn says, arguing that one of the best reasons for a nonpartisan primary is to get more voters involved.Oregon's even reliving all the old arguments Washington went through: i.e., the top-two system keeps third-party candidates out, results in single-party general elections, and limits voter choice. Despite detractors' efforts, voters approved Washington's top-two system 60 to 40 percent in 2004. (Followed by, of course, a protracted court battle.) Glynn says polling in Oregon shows voters are effectively split on I-65.So what's next, Oregon? A volcanic Mt. Hood? Water taxis on the Willamette? Imitation, as you know from our mimicry, is the greatest form of flattery—so steal away!

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