No, you didn’t read the headline incorrectly. “Brogg Perrone” is my newly acquired consigliere, a crockery totem, gifted to me by master potter and friend, Su Breidweser Nottingham. I was told that once I named him, I would soon notice his ability to “communicate” with me—and I wasn’t disappointed. The moment I assigned the moniker to my yellow-skinned buddy, the magic began to occur. “Don’t forget to vote in the presidential primary,” he whispered to me last night, while I worked on my computer. Then, this morning, it was Brogg who reminded me to look at the voting guide that had come in yesterday’s mail. Thank goodness for Brogg! I had totally forgotten that there were other positions being vied for, and other candidates who required my attention.
One of the things that Brogg has made me aware of is the inequity of our presidential primary election process. As it currently exists, sparsely populated states like New Hampshire, Vermont, and Iowa (among others), cast votes earlier than the rest of the nation, and enjoy a disproportionate amount of power in electing our President. “Why is that a problem?” I asked Brogg, as I perused the voting guide. “Don’t the smaller states need a voice?”
Brogg explained: “Earlier in our country’s history, because of the time required to campaign in less densely populated states, many candidates completely avoided campaigning in them at all. Instead, they concentrated their efforts on those states with the largest amount of electoral votes. In order to encourage candidates to visit their states, some of the smaller ones that were geographically close to one another banded together and agreed to hold their primaries at or around the same time. By doing that, they helped to gain a bigger voice in the process.”
(By now, my head was spinning.)
Brogg continued. “Today, however, those constraints are no longer in place, and candidates are able to travel much greater distances with ease. With the Internet, cable, and satellite TV, voters in even the most remote locations have full access to all the candidates.” I nodded my understanding.
“Many states are now recognizing the folly of holding their primaries in June,” said Brogg. “Often, by that time, the process has all but run its course, and candidates have pretty much wrapped up their party nominations. So, many states are advancing the dates of their primaries to March, in an effort to make their citizens’ votes more relevant in the election process. Our own state of North Carolina is one that has followed that course of action.”
I was so impressed by Brogg’s explanation that I asked him how he would conduct the primaries should he be given a voice in the process. This is what he had to say: “I think there should be two tiers of voting states. The first tier would consist of those states with populations under 5,000,000 (as of 2014, there were 23*), or the lowest 25 in population. The remaining states would make up the second tier, and would cast their ballots a week later.”
“Okay, that’s good for those smaller states,” I said, “but what else would it really accomplish?”
Brogg smiled at my naiveté. “Well, you know how the Republicans had 17 candidates in the field this year?” I acknowledged that fact. “Well,” said Brogg, “if they knew that they couldn’t gain any traction in early voting by small states, most of the less serious candidates wouldn’t even bother to run.”
“Oh,” I said, “I get it. There’d be fewer candidates. And that would equal more time for the ‘serious’ ones to get their message across. That’s brilliant!” Brogg’s smile broadened. “Exactly,” he replied. “That would let the voters make a more informed decision and—”
“Plus,” I interjected, “we wouldn’t have to endure all those debates! (It was a real horror show.) Brogg, you’re a genius!”
Ignoring my compliment, my little friend continued. “That way, those in less populated states could still feel as though their voices were being heard, but the real impact would be to winnow the field considerably—and earlier!” (I told you he was smart.)
So there you have it, Primary Voting 101, courtesy of Brogg Perrone, my consigliere and valued companion. Maybe this fall, I can persuade him to expound upon the general election—or not! (Not to worry; no partisan politicking from me—or Brogg.)