Cast informed vote

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2006

We’re coming up on the 2006 primary and it’s important that citizens understand how the election process works.

Some voters mistakenly believe that if they vote in the Democratic primary, they can’t vote for a Republican in the general election, or vice versa.

The fact is that we are free to vote for any candidate we choose, although we can only vote for one candidate in each race.

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The Democratic Party in Alabama does have a stipulation that if you vote in the Republican primary, you can’t vote in the Democratic run-off. Other than that, according to Alabama Democratic chairman Joe Turnham, it’s a “pretty open process.”

(The Republican Party in Alabama has no such stipulation, according to Brock Wells, chairman of the Dallas County GOP.)

There is one area that would help Alabama politics – opening the field to more candidates.

The Democratic and Republican parties have the run of the field in Alabama when it comes to elections.

Third Party candidates have to jump through a lot of hoops just to get on the ballot.

Candidates must get 40,000 people to sign a petition, then submit those signatures the day of the primary – June 6.

That gets them on the ballot in November. But getting 40,000 signatures is no easy task for anyone.

By keeping the two-party system, we eliminate many qualified candidates. In addition, candidates often affiliate themselves with the Republican or Democratic Party because that will get them elected – it’s not necessarily a platform they promote.

Because we are limited to a two-party system, a newly-elected official is pretty much locked into a platform before he/she even steps foot in Montgomery, or Washington.

Being so limited serves no benefit to the public. After all, if we look at the platforms of the two major parties and read each item, very few of us would fall in line completely with one or the other.

Research the candidates in each race and make an informed decision based on your beliefs of what’s best for the community and the state. Most importantly, get out and vote.