25 July 2009

Hundreds turn out for first UK primary

According to the BBC, the first British primary to select a parliamentary candidate has attracted hundreds of constituents.
Hundreds of people have turned out for a historic hustings in South Devon. In the first UK process of its kind, voters in Totnes can choose the Tories' candidate for the next election.
About 300 people were at Torbay Leisure Centre to hear from the three people bidding to stand for the Conservatives in Anthony Steen's seat.

Chagford GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, East Devon District Council leader Sara Randall-Johnson and Torbay Mayor Nick Bye were all allotted 30 minutes each.

The decision was made after Totnes MP Anthony Steen said he would stand down at the next election after reports of his expenses were made public by the Daily Telegraph.

Ballot papers have been sent to all 69,000 voters in Totnes. Mr Steen's successor will be announced on 30 July.
I am very supportive of the idea of open primaries. It seems a logical way to boost interest in political parties and the candidates standing in the election. One of the reasons that Barack Obama performed so strongly in the 2008 election was that Democratic voter registration increased so drastically throughout the competitive primary process.

Of course this is an entirely different situation, but the lessons can translate to the British system...

I do wonder how much its costing for the Conservatives to send out 69,000 ballots to local voters. Judging from my local Labour party, this isn't money that we have available to throw around!

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