As Washington Goes, So Goes Oregon?

Washington became the first state to use the top-two primary system earlier this year, after resolving a legal battle. Oregon will become the second, if ...
by | October 26, 2008

Washington became the first state to use the top-two primary system earlier this year, after resolving a legal battle. Oregon will become the second, if a ballot measure passes next week. I've added this vote to the ballot measure guide. What I've added is below.

Issue: Measure 65, which would establish a "top-two" primary election system.

Analysis: Here's how the top-two system works: In the primary, every candidate appears on one ballot, regardless of party. Each voter gets one vote. The two candidates who receive the most votes (once again, regardless of party) advance to the general election. So, under this system, you can have a general election with two Democrats, for example.

Although a couple of former governors support Measure 65, it's opposed by most of the Oregon political establishment, including the Democratic and Republican parties and Gov. Ted Kulongoski. To the contrarian voters of the Pacific Northwest, that might be all the more reason to support it. There's a bit of symmetry here. Oregon is the only state that allows physician-assisted suicide, but Washington is voting on a ballot measure to allow it. Washington is the only state that uses the top-two system (Louisiana uses something similar), but Oregon is voting to establish it.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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