One Alabama lawmaker wants to scrap partisan primaries in favor of open elections that would send the two top vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, on to the general election.
Madison-Republican State Rep. Mike Ball introduced HB214 on Tuesday, which would replace the state’s current primary system, which advances the top vote-getting Republican and top vote-getting Democrat, when both parties offer a candidate, to the general election.
Under Ball’s bill, all Alabamians would receive the same ballot and be able to vote for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation. The two highest vote-getters, regardless of party, would advance to the general election, thus eliminating the need for run-off elections.
Consequently, it would be possible for two candidates belonging to the same political party to win in the proposed system and face off in the general election.
Ball’s idea isn’t unheard of. Called a “top two,” “nonpartisan blanket” or “jungle” primary system, states like Washington, California and Louisiana all use similar electoral systems. The plan is also used in Texas and some other states in special elections but not primaries.
HB214 would be used in all elections, except that of the Presidential election.
According to the text of the bill:
This bill would create a primary election system for all offices other than the office of President where all qualified candidates, including party candidates and independent candidates, would have their names on the primary election ballot and all qualified electors would vote the same ballot. This bill would provide that the two candidates that receive the highest number of votes in a primary election, regardless of their party affiliation or lack thereof, would be placed on the ballot in the general election.
If passed, Ball’s bill would go into effect after the state elections in 2019.