Matt Miller is right [“We need a third party,” op-ed, Sept. 26] that parties are prisoners of interest groups with ideological litmus tests that prevent us from getting the best blend of liberal and conservative thinking. But the core problem is not the parties but how their members are elected, through primaries that favor extremists in gerrymandered districts.

Since 2008, the state of Washington’s nonpartisan primaries allow the top two vote-getters to face off in the general election, regardless of party affiliation. This reform was opposed by party bosses and incumbents because it was likely to open the election process and produce moderate officeholders. Also since 2008, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission has included randomly selected citizens to redraw voting district boundaries. This has produced more moderate candidates and elected officials.

Such reforms as these at the national level would make it less likely that politicians could continue to choose their voters and avoid discussing the issues in order to get reelected by their safe districts.

George Guess, Potomac

The writer is co-director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University.