In theory, a democracy or a republic is based on the principle that people get to choose who represents them. But how representative is government when the voters have no choice in elections?
Yesterday was municipal election day where I live. Of the six school districts in my county, four did not have an election because not enough candidates filed, and school districts were the main contested races on the ballot. About half of the mayors races were contested, but only about one-quarter of the city council seats, one-third of the fire district seats, and none of the road district seats.
Last week was the end of filing for the primary election for state and federal election. Perhaps these filings would show more competition for office at the state level. Unfortunately, once you got away from the federal elections and the state-wide officeholders, the numbers are equally disappointing.
Out of 17 state senate seats, nine will not be contested in November. And of those nine, four will not even have a primary. That's right about one-eighth of our state senate have effectively appointed themselves to office (ignoring the numbers who did the same two years ago). Of the other eight seats, two are between just the two major parties with no primariu, five are between just the two major parties with only one party having a primary, and the last features the two major parties and a third party with a primary for just one of the major parties. So four districts in which voters have no say, five districts in which you only have a say if you belong to one party, two in which you have a say in the general, but no say in who represents your party, and six in which voters in only one party have a say in who represents their party.
Moving onto our 163 representatives. Their are seventy-five seats which will not be contested in November. There are another six seats in which the only opposition is a third-party. That's right, in half of the seats, one of the two parties is not contesting the election. Furthermore out of these eighty-one seats, there is only a major party primary in 39 of the seats (36 uncontested in the general and three only contested by a third party). In other words, barring a third-party candidate winning one of these seats, 42 races have already been resolved -- one quarter of our state house.
Of the 82 seats to be contested by the two major parties in November, forty-five have no primary, thirty only have a primary in on of the two major parties, and only seven races have a primary in both parties.
That is a scary number, seven out of one hundred eighty seats in which primary voters in both parties and general elections voters will have a say in the direction of their legislature. For voting to make a difference, there needs to be choices. Unfortunately, I don't think my state is unique in giving very little in the way of choices to voters.