City primary a Waste of resources

The Keene Sentinel, Letter to the Editor by Darryl Perry

Voters in Catalonia went out en mass on Sunday, Oct. 1, despite Spanish police shutting down polling stations, destroying ballots and attempting to stop voters from accessing the polls. Voter turnout was reported at 42 percent and nearly 90 percent of those who did cast a ballot voted for Catalan independence. These results however are being called into question as invalid due to the low turnout.

Contrast that election with the one held in Keene on Tuesday, Oct. 3, where voter turnout was only 5 percent — yet there have not been any claims, especially not from the international community, that the election was invalid due to low voter turnout.

Additionally, the municipal primary was held to remove a single candidate from the nonpartisan race for at-large City Council seats. This is because the city ordinance states: “If in the election for mayor and in the election for each ward councilor two (2) candidates or fewer, and in the election of at-large City Council elections ten (10) candidates or fewer, file for such elected offices as of the close of the primary filing period, then the primary election shall be declared unnecessary by the City Clerk, who shall declare the candidates nominated and shall place their names upon the municipal general election ballot.”

This language was originally adopted in 1973 — is the municipal version of California’s “Top Two” election system, in which only two candidates are allowed on the general election ballot — and perpetuates the philosophy that elections must be a binary choice. At the state level, there are provisions for multiple parties to be ballot-qualified, and the Libertarians met that criteria after the 2016 election for the first time since the 1990s.

During the mayoral debate hosted by the Keene Liberty Alliance on Cheshire TV, both Kendall Lane and Robert Call stated they believe the municipal primary — spending $10,000 to create a binary-option general election — was not a wise use of resources. I’d encourage the mayor and City Council to consider striking the requirement for a municipal primary, or at the very least expand the provision to allow more than a false binary choice in the general election; especially now that New Hampshire has three qualified political parties.

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