Campaign Launch - Help Us Repair Democracy!

Campaign Launch - Help Us Repair Democracy!


Public Crowd Funding Campaign will Fundamentally Reform the Democratic Process
Contact: [email protected]

Eugene, OR - May 13, 2014. The Unified Primary Initiative announced today the launch of its campaign to fundamentally reform the democratic process, first in Oregon and then nationwide. The Unified Primary will fix two critical bugs in the voting process that have existed since the inception of the primary election system. These bugs together silence an ever growing portion of the electorate and create ineffective, gridlocked governments that are extremely susceptible to manipulation. The aggressive crowd funding campaign launched today will help accelerate the Unified Primary to adoption.

Bug #1: Exclusion

As in many states, only members of Oregon's two major parties may participate in the first election, the partisan primary, which excludes right at the outset 30.9% of voters. Worse still, because 3/4 of the state's districts provide one party a dominant advantage, 3/4 of our representatives are essentially chosen in the the primary and answer only to voters in their own parties. Added together: independents, rural Democrats and urban Republicans dominated in their districts comprise a shocking 50.6% of the state's voters who now have no meaningful representative voice. "Our divided, closed primary system creates a fundamental inequality in the voting franchise," said petitioner Mark Frohnmayer. "The weight of your vote today is totally dependent on the balance of voter registrations between the two major parties and which party or not you choose to join - not equal as required by the principle of 'One Person, One Vote.' Separate is inherently unequal."

Bug #2: Split Votes

Whenever there are more than two candidates in a race, the more similar ones split votes between them, so a winner can be chosen who doesn't represent the majority view, and it only gets worse as more candidates join in. This is commonly known as the "spoiler effect" and is why voters are told not to "waste their votes" and "vote for the lesser of two evils" instead. This spoiler bug is what turns the campaign into a name recognition money race and sidelines all independent and minor party candidates. "Compounding the basic inequality of the exclusive closed primary, the weight of your vote is further diminished if you like more than one candidate standing for office," said Frohnmayer. "This often forces us to pass over candidates we really like in favor of those we think can raise more money to prevent a much worse candidate from winning, and chills candidate participation. Put the two bugs together and our elections are ripe for manipulation, silence the majority, and yield divided, gridlocked governments."

The Solution: A Reinvented Primary

In the Unified Primary, every voter receives a ballot that shows all the candidates regardless of party. For each candidate, the voter can either vote support or leave it blank, meaning voters can support all the candidates they like. No wasted votes, no spoilers, no vote splitting. The two candidates supported by the most voters advance to the general election, where all voters can choose between them.

In the Unified Primary, candidates campaign to all voters without having to first pass a faction filter, and all voters get more choice and an equal voice - no matter how many candidates are in the race. This simple tweak to the existing two-stage election format yields a best-in-class voting system (technically known as Approval Voting with a Top Two) and is validated by significant voting science research, empirical studies and common sense. "A Primary that allows all people to judge every candidate, regardless of party, will assure that the General Election features the two best and that the winners represents all us, not just members of their own parties," said Frohnmayer.

The Campaign:

The Unified Primary campaign received certified petition forms from the Secretary of State today for circulation, and will have just eight weeks to collect the required 87,213 valid signatures from Oregon voters to put the measure on the 2014 ballot. "We are asking the people in this country who know our election system is fundamentally broken to invest in a better process," said Frohnmayer. "We cannot afford to wait on this critical reform. So many pressing issues of the day go unaddressed, and much of this inaction can be traced back to the inequality of our votes."

The campaign plans to raise $300,000 in the next 6 weeks to help accelerate the measure to the ballot and begin educating Oregon voters on the advantages of the Unified Primary system. A short video explanation can be found here: and the campaign crowd funding site is at: .

About the Unified Primary:

The Unified Primary Initiative was conceived in 2011 by brothers Mark and Jon Frohnmayer as a way to improve upon the Open Primary reform adopted in Washington and California. Their ballot measure sat dormant until the federal government shutdown on October 1st prompted Mark to submit it to the Secretary of State to begin its journey to the ballot.