It is a brisk November morning, you walk into your polling location wondering, “Why is there not a better candidate for me to vote for?” You enter the voting booth, look at your first section and you review the two candidates listed (in most cases) – one republican and one democrat. You say to yourself, “Neither candidate truly represents my values or my belief systems, but it is my duty to vote so I will select the lesser of two evils.” Is there not a better way?
Primary elections are essential to our political process, because they provide the voter within a political party a choice. The purpose of a primary is for a candidate to win the nomination of his or her political party. The primary allows the voter the opportunity to select the best representative of their belief system from a host of candidates which may have very different agendas within a political party. During the primary election cycle the voter may attend public forums or debates to hear from the candidates within a political party. This is a period you the voter can directly influence political dialogue that will take place during the summer and fall months leading up to the November election.
The results of a primary election can drastically change the platform of a political party. In 2016, the voter turnout for the presidential primary election in Ohio was 43.66% according to the Ohio Secretary of State website. That summer, the Democratic Party adopted the most progressive agenda in party history due to the amount of votes Bernie Sanders received despite losing the democratic nomination. Imagine if voter turnout was not as favorable to Bernie Sanders, would the democratic party platform experience its adaptation? While it is very easy to see the effects, Presidential primaries have on our political dialogue it is more potent on a local and state level.
While candidates in primary elections are contending for voters within their political party, you the voter can “switch parties” to vote for the candidates you wish to support. In Ohio, you must be affiliated with a political party to be able to vote for that party primary ballot. You simply request the ballot type for the political party you wish to be affiliated with when you sign in at your voting place. If you do not want to be affiliated with a political party in Ohio, you will only be able to vote an Official Questions and Issues Ballot, if there are any present for your precinct on Primary Election Day. Ohio Revised Code Section 3513.19, .20.
The results of the primary election will become the political dialogue of the summer and will narrow the choices you must make in the general election. While most individuals find themselves to be moderate, most also lean towards one political party. If you find yourself to favor one political party over the other – it is extremely important to be active and informed in that political party’s primary election process.
Birds are singing, flowers blooming, a fresh dew scent is in the air. You walk into your assigned poll location with confidence. You say to yourself, “I am not sure if my candidate will win it all, but this is the candidate I support.” Who knows, maybe you will vote for the same person in November, or maybe your vote leads to a change in party platform which you will see during the general election.