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October 15, 2010


Michael Keyes

I should add that state and federal laws are separate and that the Presidential nomination is for the only national election we have. State parties elect the convention goers but not necessarily the ticket. Just look at the last set of national conventions. Each state party is entitled to determine how those conventioneers are selected and each national party can add superdelegates if they want to.

So the rules are different and a comparison of state and national methods may not be that valid.

For the record, the two main parties are not hurting for money. If the $4M is an upper limit, then they are better off not taking it. If it is just another contribution to the coffers allowing $4M of fungible funds to go campaigning, I say take it away and let the smaller parties use it.

Michael Keyes

Caususes and conventions don't cost the state a cent and are as valid a way to choose a candidate as primary elections. The only reasons primary elections occur is that they are so much easier for the party to organize since the state does a lot, if not all, of it and no one has to travel very far to participate.

Lots of states have these alternatives, in fact both of these methods probably pre-date the election in many states. Some states have both conventions and caucuses.

If a state wanted to start saving millions of dollars, they could get rid of the primary election laws. This way the parties would be in more control and the process would better reflect the wishes of party members. Election fraud would become non-existent since in a caucus you know exactly how many voters there are and in a convention everyone would have to pass a vetting before entering.

Primary elections exist only because the parties are too lazy to do the real work.

By the way, here is the FEC FAQ:

"Convention Funding
Each major political party is entitled to $4 million (plus cost-of-living adjustments)8 to finance its national Presidential nominating convention. A qualified minor party may become eligible for partial convention funding based on its Presidential candidate's share of the popular vote in the preceding Presidential election.

A party convention committee may not spend more than the amount to which the major party is entitled. Contributions may be accepted, however, for a special account maintained exclusively to pay for legal and accounting expenses associated with complying with the campaign finance law. Contributions to this account count against the donor's annual limit for the Party. Certain supplemental services may also be provided by the host state and city governments and by local groups such as businesses and labor unions. The host city may, for example, provide additional public transportation to and from the convention site. Or a business may sell or rent chairs, podiums, tables or other equipment to the convention committee at discount rates."

I see Boise State is number 2 now.

Steve Rankin

In 1995, the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, when the state mandates that parties hold primaries, the parties cannot be required to pay for those primaries (Republican Party of Arkansas v. Faulkner County).

If left to their own devices, the parties would be very unlikely to hold primaries, due to the expense. Then the voters (in most states) would raise hell. Hence states will continue to mandate and pay for party primaries.

The Idaho Republicans' lawsuit has the potential to prompt a landmark ruling from the US Supreme Court. I've been predicting that, when such a case reaches the high court, the justices will strike down the state-mandated open primary.

It's my understanding that the Federal Elections Commission indeed does pay for the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

~~ Steve Rankin
Jackson, Mississippi

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