Editorials

Old style voter disenfranchisement

Tuesday’s primary, because of our system of partisan elections, did a disservice to voters. By having to declare either Republican or Democratic party affiliations, voters could not select everyone they may have wanted. For example, the Sheriff’s race was on the Democratic ticket while the Bibb County Commission, District 3 was on the Republican ballot. District 3 voters who might have wanted a say in both races could not. The same thing applied in state Senate districts 18 and 26, one Republican the other Democratic.

This process is nonsense and it doesn’t have to be that way. There are several examples. Louisiana uses a nonpartisan blanket primary where everyone is on the ballot and the top two finishers meet in a runoff election. Some states, such as Nebraska use a nonpartisan primary for its legislature but not for other offices.

Last year, eight elected officials, Bibb County Solicitor-General Otis Scarbary, Probate Judge William Self, District Attorney Greg Winters, Sheriff Jerry Modena, Superior Court Clerk Dianne Brannen and Coroner Leon Jones, Civil Court Judge William Randall and Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders, asked for local legislation to make their offices nonpartisan. There is no need for any of those positions to be partisan. The sheriff has to arrest Republicans and Democrats. The tax commissioner doesn’t collect money based on party affiliation, and certainly, judges could care less about party when handing down sentences.

So why do we do it? Why do we have party affiliation attached to the above positions and school board seats. In fact, for local positions is there ever a need to be partisan? We think not. And the rest of the state’s 534 municipalities agree. According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, Macon is the only place in the state that holds partisan elections. Either everyone else is conducting elections improperly and we are doing it right, or ....

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