For many long, slow months we've heard nothing much about Supporters. Granted my connectivity into the scene isn't at its most connected right now - damn education and employment, gettin' in the way of my politics! - but monitoring the media and all this other stuff, I've seen nary a mention. It's almost as if the Supporters category was getting something of a half-assed approach from those running this party... but its entirely possible I've not seen the whole story, so I'll reserve my judgement on that front.
But not so much on this, as reported by John Ibbitson:
Yes, it is possible to go to Liberal.ca and sign on as a supporter, and the party claims 20,000 people have done so.Emphasis is obviously mine - and what an emphasis. The Supporters category, which by all accounts has been fairly successful so far (20,000 is nothing to scoff at, right Alberta Liberals? Oh crud...), should be given every opportunity to sign up as many participants as it can. That is kind of the point, after all; why would we discount those people who want to sign up as Supporters later in the race? Forty-one days is nearly six weeks until the end of the race in April 14th - and six weeks isn't even the length of a standard general election campaign period.
But that privilege will end 41 days before the April 14 vote is announced. Mike Crawley, the party’s president, explained Sunday that the party had decided to make the cutoff for both supporters and members that far in advance, so that lists could be finalized, checked for possible acts of fraud, and then shared with all candidates.
As Ibbitson says, this is a strange idea. I know past Liberal membership deadlines, like in 2006, was months and months in advanced; however the NDP membership cutoff date for their leadership election was February 18th, roughly a month and a bit before their race's conclusion. And they didn't have too many issues with their memberships (just with online voting).
In a One-Member, One-Vote system, its key to have everyone you can voting - the greater the number of voters, the more democratically healthy your race is (in principle). But we're artificially cutting off both our Supporters - supposedly the biggest boon we would've had to this race - and memberships.
It's a strange, and a bit of a stupid idea. Why are we cutting ourselves off at the knees, here?