"You're vote counts!" "I vote. I count." "No vote is a wasted vote."
Are these statements still true? In most cases, I am a firm believer that they are. In the case of presidential primaries, though, it may be becoming less of a fact. If you are a primary voter and live in a state with a later primary date, it is becoming more and more likely that many, if not all, of your choices are going to be mathematically eliminated from victory before you can even cast a ballot. In that case, you either vote for who is left, or you vote on principal for who has been eliminated.
There's a recent surge among the states to be the first state to hold presidential primaries. It's been a trend over recent years, a trend has been accelerating exponentially throughout recent months. Florida moved up its primary to January 31st. Nevada is heading to the polls January 14th. South Carolina is shooting for January 10th.
And now there is New Hampshire. New Hampshire is now saying they may hold their 2012 presidential primary on December 13th. Maybe even December 6th. Yep, in 2011. A couple weeks before we even get to Christmas.
States need to feel important. They want the attention the media gives them for being the first to cast an official presidential ballot. They like the fact that their votes...well, count.
But this rush to be number one is now getting out of hand. Every state wants to be first, and every state will change their primary dates to make it happen. Do you think December 6th is way too early for a primary? I do, too. I promise you, though, that in 2016 there will be a state, or probably states, that will move their primary even earlier. It's ridiculous now, it'll be even more ridiculous then.
"No one state is more important than another." Except in the case of choosing major party presidential candidates, it would seem.
So what's the solution? Alas, there is only one. (Okay, there's two, but the second will never happen as long as two parties maintain control.) That solution is a constitutional amendment requiring all primaries for the office of President of the United States to be held on the same day. No more super-early primaries. No more late primaries where votes truly don't count. Everyone votes the same day, and neither a person nor a state is more important than another. It is the only way.
("The only way? But, Josh, you mentioned a second possibility!" That second possibility is that the major parties assume control of their own candidate selection. You see, you think your vote for who you want the presidential candidate from your party to be really counts, but it doesn't. The parties themselves pick their candidates at convention. To make you feel all warm and fuzzy, they select the candidate the people picked in primaries. But, a few state laws easily pushed aside and they wouldn't have to. Candidate selection is private party business. The Rs and the Ds just passed laws to make the taxpayers pay for an very expensive and unnecessary primary system so they can make you feel important to the selection process, to gain brand loyalty, and to maintain the image that they are the only real players in town. It's done very well for them over the years, but it's cost you an I an assload of our money.)
So, let's do what we can to end this craziness before it is so far out of hand that we are voting in a presidential primary in the even-numbered years between presidential elections. This is a bad trend, and it is one that will continue to occur. Let's call on our federal government to focus some of its power on the things it should: federal issues. You won't hear me calling for the feds to reign in the states on too many occasions, but this is one issue that the states will continue to go crazy with until that intervention occurs.