Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Ballot Measure 90 on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot would help to solve one problem we have the way many of Oregon's primary elections are conducted.

But the measure would create an even greater problem in general elections, which is why we urge Oregonians to reject it this fall.

Measure 90 would create a "top two" primary, similar to the system both Washington and California use.

All voters could cast a ballot in the primary. That's not the case now in some cases, including this spring's two Baker County Commissioner races. Because all four candidates in those two races are Republicans, only registered Republicans, who make up about 46 percent of the county's electorate, voted.

We're in favor of ending the practice of such "closed" primaries, which can leave more than half of a county's or district's voters with an empty slot on their ballot.

But Measure 90 would do more than that. The "top two" means the two candidates who finish first and second in the primary both advance to the general election. Party affiliation, or lack thereof, doesn't matter - if both are Republicans, or both are Democrats, those two, and only those two, will be on the ballot for the general election.

That's a recipe for voter apathy in the general election.

There are many districts in Oregon where it's a near guarantee, under a top two primary, that both candidates in the general election would be from the same party.

It's inevitable, in such cases, that voters from the other party - in addition to independents and voters affiliated with a minor party - would have little incentive to, in effect, choose from the lesser of two evils.

We need to encourage voters to participate.

Measure 90 does the opposite.