Thanks to Congressman Tom McClintock, the California Republican Party was delivered from the destructive course of action advocated by outgoing chair, Ron Nehring. In the eleventh hour, McClintock lent his name to the proposal by Mike Spence to move to a vote by mail caucus beginning in 2014. While not perfect, the Spence plan will allow a primary election to be conducted via mail and allow any interested registered Republicans to participate. Despite three years to plan for it, the Party decided that they did not have the time to implement the system for the 2012 election cycle and opted for a “do no harm” approach to this series of elections.
Spence’s proposal is a positive development but it opens a series of new questions that should be addressed at the next convention.
My peer group has talked it over and we think that using snail mail for anything is costly and if the CRP had any visionary folks they would get the primary set-up as an online voting system. This would be a perfect opportunity for any aspiring tech company to field test their voting system under actual conditions without the repercussions of screwing-up an election for a government entity. After all California is the home of Silicon Valley and such a system is a logical extension of technology.
In addition, the CRP has no clue how to pay for the primary. In the past this exercise has always been paid for by taxpayers. Now that it will become privately funded we are entering uncharted territory.
The one office not addressed by this proposal is the election of Central Committee members. Should this be the only partisan election still paid by taxpayers? How does this affect McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws? Are Central Committees still needed or are they relics of a bygone era?
Allowing registered voters to continue to participate is good but trusting the CRP to get it right is a slightly more dubious proposition.