There are three things Oregonians need to know about Measure 90, the top-two election proposal on the November ballot. First, top two will severely restrict voters’ rights to vote in all November elections. Second, top two is undemocratic. Third, there is absolutely no evidence that top two will improve our elections. The right to vote is the most precious right in our country; it is the right on which all other rights depend. Freedom of choice in the election process is what differentiates a democracy from, say, a dictatorship. Although the big business backers of top two focus on the effects their proposal will have on primary elections, the November election is where it will truly wreak havoc with the democratic process.
In the November election, under top two, there will be only two candidates on the ballot in each race — and both candidates could be from the same party. This has been the experience in Washington and California using top two: Elections where the “choice” is between two Republicans or two Democrats.
Limiting choices to just two in our most critical election is offensive to democratic ideals. Most civilized nations offer their citizens a veritable menu of choices on Election Day. Yet top two limits us to only two choices; one “choice” away from those afforded to you in China or Cuba.
Elections are about ideas and not simply about winning or losing. With top two, the debate that would ensue after the May primary would be extremely narrow. What if we could only get our news from ABC or CBS? What if there were no newspapers or internet, no CNN or NPR or Fox or MSNBC? Would we accept those “choices”? What if your “choice” for news was between ABC and ABC? These are the kinds of “choices” top two will produce.