Don't throw out blanket primaries

Regarding "California-style primaries banned" (June 27): Just because California finally woke up in 1996 and threw off the stranglehold of partisan interests to hold truly free primaries, it is not a trendsetter. Washington State has been holding blanket primaries for more than 70 of its 111 years of statehood.

If political parties in our state attempt to use this Supreme Court ruling to change our primaries, the people of this state will resist to the hilt. It can be shown that our present system of blanket primaries has in no way weakened party loyalty or association. Currently our state's makeup of registered Democrats and Republicans mirrors the constituencies of the state well.

I don't think blanket primaries have hurt our state's representation, or our political parties' ability to organize. Washington with its strange hybrid primary vote/open caucus for presidential elections has always been a force in grass-roots political party organizing.

The Supreme Court should leave the states alone. We are not all the same. There is no one formula for achieving fair democratic representation.

Elizabeth Cottrell Port Orchard, Wash.

I grew up in Texas, an open primary state, with nonpartisan city elections. The net effect of this system is to weaken big-city political machines. I believe that fact, alone, makes Texas attractive to business. I now live in Pennsylvania, a state with a closed primary and 19th-century big-city politics.

In Pennsylvania you must publicly declare your political-party preference, or lack of one, as a condition for becoming a registered voter. I believe your political-party persuasion is no more the public's business than your religious affiliation, or lack of one. In these times, when personal privacy is almost a daily issue, I am not aware that either the ACLU or the League of Women Voters has made any effort to end this invasion of privacy.

From a practical standpoint, it may be impossible for a closed-primary state to change to an open-primary system. In Pennsylvania candidates for office collect a certain number of registered party voters' signatures to secure a place on the party primary ballot. In states with an open-primary voter-registration system, candidates are selected by some form of party caucus held before the election date. Realistically, changing the rules that political parties live by is not wanted by either major party nor by most of the voters.

Walter E. Hopkins, Jr. Pleasant Hills, Penn.

Bribery in Mexican elections

The breezy June 26 article about the "bribery" in Mexico's presidential campaign demeans what will be in fact a very important and profound election on July 2 ("In Mexico's closest race, bribes gall").

The depiction of the instances of bribery is condescending - if not worse - without a contrasting reference to comparable situations here in the US. Is a congressman's vote in favor of a government pork-barrel project in his district which will employ potential voters - or a campaign contributor being invited to a White House coffee or Lincoln Bedroom sleepover - any different from what the article describes?

And it is an egregious omission not to explicitly state that President Zedillo is a member of the PRI and owes his political fortunes - indeed, his presidency - to the PRI and its vote influencing. Had the writer been clearer about this, the absurdity of Zedillo presenting himself as an unbiased arbiter and advocate of a fair campaign would be evident.

Randy Stark Santa Barbara, Calif.

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