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Best electoral advantage is party, not incumbency, new study underscores

Griffiths is the editor of Independent Voter News, where a version of this story first appeared.

A new report reinforces something political reform advocates and experts have been saying for years: Partisan identity is becoming the primary determinant in nearly every election.

The "Monopoly Politics" study, a biennial project of the electoral reform advocacy group FairVote, predicts the results of all 435 seats in the House long before Election Day. The 2020 version, released last week, predicted 357 "high confidence seats" with a 99.7 percent accuracy rate. The group bases its predictions on prior voting patterns, not on polling results, a methodology that has worked since FairVote began the project in 1997.

The predictions were made fully two years ahead of time, in November 2018, a startling reminder of how little competition there is in congressional contests and the consequence this has on the nation's politics. The authors say a central takeaway is the increasing role partisanship plays in the outcome of such elections.

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Pandemic's made partisanship even worse, independent voters say

Griffiths is the editor of Independent Voter News, where a version of this story first appeared.

A whopping four out of five independents say the coronavirus pandemic has made partisanship in politics even clearer — and more critical to combat.

That's the top takeaway from the second nationwide poll conducted by Independent Voting, one of the main advocacy groups seeking to galvanize the two-fifths of Americans who don't identify with either major party and view their duopoly as one of democracy's major ills.

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Harmeet Dhillon, one of the state's Republican National Committee members, says a new law's extension for postal delays creates "a lot of opportunity for mischief."

California will mail ballots to all and count those arriving 17 days late

Griffiths is the editor of Independent Voter News.

Ballots will be delivered to every registered, active California voter this fall under a law signed Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The measure assures everyone in the nation's most populous state will be able to vote by mail in the presidential contest. It's the biggest single expansion so far of this alternative for the general election, when a surge of interest in absentee balloting nationwide seems guaranteed as a result of the coronavirus.

The bill also assures the outcome of close contests won't be known until nearly Thanksgiving, because a provision mandates that envelopes postmarked by Election Day be tabulated if they arrive as long as 17 days later. No other state has that long a grace period to allow for slow postal service.

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In Baltimore, winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to winning the election. Catherine Pugh won the 2016 primary with just 37 percent of the vote.

Solution for one big city's blue monopoly? Open primaries, study says.

Griffiths is the editor of Independent Voter News.

Baltimore is a one-party town. It hasn't had a Republican mayor since 1967. Registered Democrats vastly outnumber any other party registration, having a tenfold advantage over the GOP. It's as blue as a city can get.

The consequence is that November elections are inconsequential. The winner of the closed Democratic mayoral primary, for instance, might as well be sworn in the next day, and he or she can win with a marginal share of the total registered voting population. Voters outside the Democratic Party have no voice in the process.

A new study says that, to strengthen political competition and improve city elections, Baltimore should implement nonpartisan reform. Specifically, George Washington University political scientist Christopher Warshaw says, a "'top-two primary' is the reform most likely to improve Baltimore's mayoral elections. This reform would increase turnout and electoral competition."

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