Rotating Primaries Would Give Hoosiers a Say in Presidential Nomination

Contact: Cam Savage

By Secretary of State Todd Rokita

There wasn't much national fanfare last Tuesday when Hoosiers went to the polls to vote in the presidential primary election. George W. Bush was unopposed for the Republican nomination, and John Kerry has already secured enough delegates to be his party's nominee.

Despite that, Democrats were still able to vote for John Edwards, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and even Lyndon LaRouche, but it didn't make a bit of difference in determining their party's nominee for President.

There were still plenty of reasons to go vote. Republicans chose their candidate for Governor and there were hotly contested primaries for the State House, State Senate and Congress. All the non-partisan school board races were decided this May.

But for the last several election cycles, the rush has been on to move the presidential primaries earlier and earlier as states fight for the spoils that come with being an important primary state. It's good for states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to have the media attention that an early presidential primary brings. It's even better for their voters.

In Indiana we don't have much of a say in choosing nominees for President, because the nominations are a done deal by the time our May primary rolls around. Not since 1976, when Ronald Reagan carried Indiana in his insurgent campaign against President Gerald Ford, did we Hoosiers have a meaningful vote in a presidential primary.

That's one of the reasons I support the idea of rotating regional primaries. Under the rotating regional primary system, the nation would be divided into four regions, and each region would hold its primaries or caucuses in different months - March, April, May or June. The regions would rotate positions among the four primary/caucus months every four years to give each region regular opportunities to be the first in the nation to vote.

Not only would the rotating regional primary provide Indiana's voters with electoral significance, it would also force candidates to come to Indiana to campaign. Presidential campaigns make more than a civic impact on a state; they also make an economic one.

Expenses for television and radio advertising, hotel rooms, meals, printing, rental cars, staffing, and building space could easily reach into the millions of dollars. It's an economic windfall that Indiana has never known.

Giving small states like Indiana a voice in choosing presidential nominees only makes sense. But because the rotating regional plan must be approved by fifty state legislatures, implementing the plan is a national challenge.

I want to thank everyone who went to the polls last Tuesday to help choose nominees for our state and local offices. Four years from now, maybe Hoosiers will have the opportunity to choose a presidential candidate, too.