Debra J. Saunders

The dent in my argument: Democratic strategist Katie Merrill points out that there always is a drop in voter registration three years after a presidential election. Merrill also acknowledged that the percentage of Californians who vote has been declining, saying, "I definitely think there was fatigue that influenced the turnout in the primary of 2006." In that election, 23 percent of eligible -- or 34 percent of registered -- voters went to the polls.

If the governor signs the early primary bill, the next California primary could make 2006 seem like a blowout affair.

Tony Quinn, a political analyst and co-editor of the Target Book, predicts that after a hot February presidential contest, perhaps fewer than 10 percent of registered voters will show up for a June primary. Just this month, the Los Angeles primary for city council and school board attracted a sorry 7 percent of registered voters.

The trade-off could be that more Californians vote for president, but fewer vote for congressional and legislative races. And if fewer than one in 10 citizens decide who represents you in Sacramento and Washington, how are you better off?

The worst of it is, Democratic legislative leaders jammed through the early primary because they want to put a companion measure on the February ballot to extend term limits so that they can run for re-election in 2008. "In five minutes, their carriage is going to turn into a pumpkin," Quinn noted, so they came up with an early primary. He calls it "the Cinderella primary."

I've been having second thoughts about term limits, but this bill proves that Sacto pols don't deserve to keep their jobs.

Debra J. Saunders

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