Primary process needs to be changed

South Bend Tribune

For the first time since Barack Obama faced Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, the results of Indiana’s primary vote mattered.

That’s not always been the case. In most presidential primaries, the nominee has long been determined before the process turns to Indiana. This year, however, some political observers said Indiana was the most important primary remaining following the handful of eastern states that voted a few weeks ago.

It’s disheartening, not to mention unfair, when the ballots of Indiana voters don’t carry as much weight when it comes to selecting this country’s leaders.

This year’s anti-establishment tone has brought high interest among voters.

More often than not Indiana has been just another primary on the path to the nomination. There are alternative primary systems that would give Hoosiers and other states more weight in the election process.

Regional rotating primaries is one option, among others, that should be considered. Different areas of the country would be grouped together — Midwest, South, Northeast and West — and take turns hosting primaries February through May. It’s a plan that has long been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Whatever the solution, the primary election process needs to change.

It’s only because of Iowa’s long, drawn-out election process that culminates with the parties’ state conventions that the state’s caucuses came so early in the year. Iowa needed the time to complete the process. Then, in 1976, Jimmy Carter used the caucuses as a springboard to the presidency. Iowa had made its mark.

New Hampshire has held the first-in-the-nation primary since 1920 and a law keeps that state first to this day.

But why should two small states such as Iowa and New Hampshire play such inordinately large roles in the election process? Giving every state a stake in the process makes better sense. When people believe their ballot counts, they are more likely to vote. Record early-voting numbers already have been reached in Indiana because the state will play an important role this year.

It shouldn’t be such a rare occurrence.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.