Booting Central Committee Elections from the Ballot

Barry Jantz Barry Jantz 3 Comments


The following piece appeared on the FlashReport as last weekend’s Sunday San Diego.  This is good timing to cross-post it here, following Ryan Darby’s excellent Rostra entry on the same subject

Sunday San Diego (and California): Booting Central Committee Elections from the Ballot

by Barry Jantz
March 27, 2011

Comparing them to Kiwanis Club elections, San Diego County Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler is involved in an effort to remove the county central committee elections of all parties from primary ballots across the state, citing the high cost of providing a “complete taxpayer subsidy of a private organization.”

Last Tuesday, the Union-Tribune reported on the savings move by several apparently annoyed county registrars in California, which reporter Christopher Cadelago noted — perhaps significantly — had not yet garnered a legislative author.

It’s a must read for the many FlashReport readers involved in the nuts and bolts of local party politics, which — we must admittedly agree — draws little notice from voters (other than the “science” of going down the ballot and selecting a handful of unknown candidates).

Of interest to Republicans, County GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric, minted last weekend as vice chairman South of the State Party, said he is open to looking at an alternative means of selecting party members. “I know it’s a big pain in the neck and a huge cost to administer these hundreds of individual offices,” said Krvaric in the story.

With last year’s Prop 14 having stripped the state of partisan primary legislative elections, the time is undoubtedly right in their minds for county elections officials to take up such an effort, especially wrapped in the banner of cost savings and non-subsidies for private organizations.

The comparison of a partisan central committee campaign to a private “Kiwanis Club” election is indeed ironic. Those of all parties supporting partisan primaries for legislative office (including me) have long held that registered party members should be the ones selecting their own nominees, while often noting that Rotarians would not allow Kiwanians to elect their officers and vice-versa.

The question of whether county central committees are completely private organizations — or part of a traditional democratic process for those of each party to elect individuals to represent their interests year round — will remain an ongoing debate, especially post Prop 14.

There is no doubt, however, that the mechanics of a democratic republic are sometimes annoying, often costly — and always necessary. Let’s not envision the day state budget problems result in authorities claiming we can’t afford elections at all.

In the meantime, given last weekend’s California Republican Party brouhaha over how GOP nominees will be selected in the future, I have a great idea. Maybe the CRP board of directors should select the local central committee members in every county in the state.

Or not.


Click to see the reader comments on the FlashReport post.


Comments 3

  1. These comments were posted to the Flash piece:

    I would suggest a nominal fee of $10 a year to the county party which a member would get voting access. It would be a good way for county parties to get some revenue and people would have some ownership in their county party.

    It would be more like patronage if the CRP board of directors chose the local central committee members.

    Posted by Matt Munson at March 27, 2011 4:09pm

    If the CRP ever does develop a broad-based nomination process in which all registered Republicans can participate, such as Iowa-style caucuses or mail-in ballots, perhaps county central committee members can be elected by the same means as nominees for public office are chosen.

    Posted by Rohit Joy at March 27, 2011 5:11pm

    While I hope we will never see the day when authorities claim that we can’t afford elections at all, I do think we will next see county registrars argue that they shouldn’t be charged with tracking the membership of private organizations and that we should drop the party affiliation question from voter registration forms. We’ve already seen this happen in NH and SC, two early presidential primary states, and this has enabled non-Republicans to influence the outcomes in these states and ultimately who wins the Republican nomination for President.

    If this happens in CA, it will become impossible for the CRP to develop any sort of broad-based system to nominate candidates or elect central committee members, and more generally force parties to act as completely private organizations and not as open, inclusive, democratic organizations in which all interested voters can participate on an equal basis.

    Posted by Rohit Joy at March 27, 2011 5:48pm

  2. Mail only ballot? Isn’t that an invitation for mischief?
    Election do have expenses, but nobody smart ever claimed freedom was free.

  3. Political party candidates can be selected at conventions (I think the Virginia GOP uses this procedure), or any other method the parties prefer. One benefit is that the partisan candidates would more closely represent the agenda of the party whose standard they carry into battle.

    With “top two” open primaries, the candidates selected will be less likely than ever to reflect the professed platforms of their parties. And that makes it harder for the average voter to know who or what they are voting for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.