Otherwise, a small number of highly motivated partisan voters can change the outcome.
In “Alaska’s Senate Nail-Biter” (Potomac Watch, Oct. 7), Kimberley Strassel states, “There’s no question the new system has benefited [Sen. Lisa Murkowski]. She would have lost a Republican primary to [Kelly] Tshibaka.” Ms. Strassel is right. More important, however, the new system also benefits the voters.
An open, nonpartisan primary benefits Ms. Murkowski because in closed, partisan primaries, moderate candidates on the right and left are susceptible to being primaried by more extreme candidates. In elections in which less than 5% of registered voters turn out, a small number of highly motivated partisan voters can change the outcome.
In an open, nonpartisan primary, all voters can participate. In Alaska, only the 26% of voters who are registered Republicans could participate in the Republican primary, where the winner was highly likely to win the general election. In the old system, 74% of voters were effectively disenfranchised.