Marc Fisher's column in this morning's Washington Post advocates for elimination of the set-aside seats provided for the DC Council for members of minority parties included in the Home Rule Charter and mandated by Congress. As you may know, 2 of the 4 at-large seats on the DC Council are designated for non-Democrats, leading to the Michael Brown situation/lawsuit. I agree with Fisher wholeheartedly, but I believe there may be another element necessary for DC election reform, particularly if we get rid of the set-aside seats: open primaries.
While in other jurisdictions, I might not support open primaries, in DC, the closed primary system further disenfranchises the already largely disenfranchised. Those who are not registered Democrats are effectively precluded from a say in mayoral and city council races -- and eliminating the set aside positions will render their votes almost completely irrelevant. It will lead even more people to remain registered in their prior home state, stay home on election day, or engage in the silliness of our DC system in which numerous independents, Green/Statehood, and Republicans switch their registration to Dem to vote in the primary, then switch is back for the general (it would be interesting if the DCBOEE could give us statistics on the number of switcharoos).
I can't tell you the number of independents I ran into on the campaign trail, many of which were relatively new to the city, who didn't realize that by choosing to be unaffiliated with a party for whatever reason, they would effectively have no say in our local elections.
Should open primaries be part of an election reform package that eliminates the set asides?