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Aren't there better ways to spend our tax dollars?

I’m not going to vote in the primary election. And I kind of hope you don’t either.

That entire process, from the filings to the finance reports to the committee challenges, is not about electing people to represent us in local, state or federal government.

It is about private clubs making taxpayers pay to pick some of the candidates who will be on the real ballot come November.

Forget the names of the political parties involved. Slapping those emotionally-charged labels on there isn’t going to get us anywhere in this discussion.

Instead, let’s substitute a couple fairly innocuous groups that most people love: Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

(I’d just as soon plug in the Moose and Elks or Pepsi and Coke, but the Scouts have better popcorn and cookies than those other guys.)

Anyways, each group has local chapters, a state organization and a big ol’ national level of higher ups.

If the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts each want to put up candidates to run for local political positions and help push their social and economic values, I welcome them into the race.

Indiana law allows certain groups the ability to get a toehold into the races. They even let smaller groups skip all the extra shenanigans if they have a proven track record of bringing a good amount of voters to the general election polls.

I say, let’s let the different Scout groups hold local meetings to select their best of the best and then send those folks to the state get-together for further vetting.

Once the cream of the Hoosier crop has been selected, the Boy Scouts can go to their grand shindig and the Girl Scouts can gather for their national party and each can pick their own pony to vie for a spot in the tax-funded life of public service.

Until the voters actually get to choose who works for them, however, they should pay their own way onto the ballot.

My momma named me Travis, but I want to be frank for a second.

Republicans and Democrats – the people who wrote the election rules – make everyday Americans pay for the entire process of selecting the people who we will vote for in November.

Rather than shoulder the financial burden of choosing their own champions, the Grand Ole Party and the Dems waste millions of dollars every spring bashing each other to prove that “I’m the best candidate!”

And then they start all over in June. That time around, of course, former rivals conveniently forget the previous months of mud-slinging and become a united front against the dreaded “other party.”

All the while, Henry County has to figure out how to pay overtime for ballot counters.

Our county clerk has to step away from her duties to help settle a dispute over whether or not one of the declared candidates is true enough to their particular brand of soda, I mean, political party and gets a spot on the partisan ballot.

Speaking of those ballots, not everything is created equal in the realm of primary elections. Those particular elections are open only to voters who declare themselves to be Rs or Ds.

Sure, this helps with other convoluted rules down the pipe, but those guys aren’t the only ones paying county taxes. So why are the other taxpayers footing the bill for primary elections?

Why do Republicans and Democrats across the country make everyone else subsidize their candidate selection process?

In the meantime, a lot of us are dodging potholes because its hard to find money to buy more road patch.

There’s a different way, folks, and it doesn’t cost the people who don’t want to play the game anything.

Smaller political parties (think the Libertarian Party or the Green Party) hold local meetings in their communities every year, just like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts do.

These political meetings are typically called county or area conventions.

At the county level, local candidates are selected and state-level hopefuls are picked. The next step is the state convention, where the party diehards vote who they want to put on the next public ballot.

Then it’s on to the national convention. The Greens have their 2018 annual national meeting this year in Salt Lake City. The Libertarians are getting together in New Orleans. And you don’t have to pay for any of it.

Small parties do not use taxpayer dollars to pick the folks representing their card-carrying ideals on Election Day.

I’d like to see some of our elected officials, most of whom proudly display the party D or R after their name, stand up and put an end to the hemorrhage of local, state and federal tax dollars that go into funding primary elections.

Call on your party supporters to put their money where their hyperbolic Facebook rants are and start paying for the process directly out of their own pockets. Unless, of course, you’re worried that they can’t keep the monopoly on political office without all those tax subsidies.

Travis Weik is a reporter for The Courier-Times. He helped start the Henry County Libertarian Party a few years back, hangs out with Democrats on the regular and has had more than a few friendly beverages with hardcore Republicans.