Unproductive partisanship in Oregon politics could be reduced if the state would ditch its obsolete method of selecting candidates for public office.

This state is one of a declining number still saddled with closed primaries that curtail voter choice. Under the current system, voters must register for a party before they can participate in its primary election. This method puts power in the hands of the most loyal partisans of either party.

Former Secretary of State Phil Keisling, a Democrat, has been joined by another former Secretary of State, Republican Norma Paulus, in pushing for a new Oregon primary. Their initiative proposal, which they hope will appear on the November ballot, would allow all voters Ñ without regard to party Ñ to receive an identical ballot in the May primary.

Voters then would cast ballots for whichever candidate they think would best represent them. The top two candidates Ñ again, regardless of party Ñ would advance to the general election.

Open primaries would bring more choice, better candidates and, ultimately, more responsive public officials. This is one initiative petition that voters should be eager to sign.

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