Rep. Rubley and Our Archaic Primary

I met with my state representative yesterday– Carol Rubley– and found her delightful.  In fact, it is a testament to our system of government that it was so easy for me to schedule an appointment to speak with her.  She showed an interest in what I had to say as a constituent, and it is surprising to me that more people do not avail themselves of this opportunity.  At a local level– ward leaders, state representatives, even mayors of small municipalities– these people are perfectly willing to talk to voters.  It’s their job.  Yet even someone as engaged as I am never bothered until now.

She is on the right side of issues such as the revision of our Right to Know law and the Highmark / IBC merger, and understands the antipathy conservative voters have for the state GOP establishment.  She was also frank about why our legislators do not want to move up the presidential primary, and it jibes perfectly with what I heard at the PA Leadership Conference.

If we move the primary up to February, candidates will have to secure signatures over the holidays to ensure their presence on a February primary ballot.  They would rather spend time with their families.  Anything we hear about Act 1, potential distractions from local races, and all the rest is just a creel full of red herrings.

I sympathize.  But I also know these legislators serve at our pleasure, not the other way ’round.  It does not seem unreasonable to me for the price of being a legislator to include some minor holiday inconvenience every couple of years.  Especially when this inconvenience buys their constituents an enhancement of their fundamental right to political representation at the highest levels.  And what better place to get signatures than at a shopping mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

But Representative Rubely, and her colleagues, are not interested in moving this process forward unless the will of Pennsylvania’s voters makes it impossible for them to ignore.  I still haven’t gotten an answer from my Assembly Senator, Andy Dinnniman.  Sounds like a familiar story, eh?  Yet again, the voters have to work to get their representatives to represent them.

So contact your Assembly representatives and tell them you would like to exercise your quaint right to cast a real vote for President.  If you don’t know who they are, find it out here.  When you’re done doing that, also contact the leaders on the State Government Committee that handles this.  Those people would be:

Babette Josephs, Majority Chair, DEM:

Matt Baker, Minority Chair, GOP:

Here is a brief, polite e-mail you can send to all these relevant folks if you have a life and can’t be bothered to write one up yourself.

“Dear XXX:

I would dearly love the opportunity to cast a vote in the presidential primary that matters.  Our current system is indeed broken, and ultimately a national regional primary may be the best answer.  For at least this cycle, though, this reform will not happen.

So in the interest of allowing the voters of Pennsylvania to have a real choice in who the two major political parties nominate for president I urge you to move our primary forward, preferably to February.  If we do this the men and women who aspire to the presidency will have to take the citizens of Pennsylvania into account, and we will have the opportunity to vote for more than a dozen viable candidates for president rather than just two.

I understand there are some procedural objections to this.  I also understand the most pressing objection is that it will be inconvenient to require candidates to secure, during the holidays, the signatures necessary to appear on a February primary ballot.  As far as I know, though, if our primary were moved to February 5 the petition period would be in November, including both election day and Black Friday.  Both are wonder opportunities to garner signatures.  Christmas, Chanukah, and New Years would not be a factor.

So while it is true election boards would have to work through the holidays at least they would now have Easter and Passover to themselves.  Besides, it hardly seems appropriate to have my right to national political representation held hostage by the convenience of the folks who run our elections.  They work for me, after all.  Not the other way around.

I hope you agree.




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