Posted by Jesse Shayne on March 28, 2017 at 11:54 AM
Our political system is broken, has become more corrupt, and has led to an anti-establishment sentiment in Maine and across the country. Bickering and gridlock have become the flagbearers of Maine's Republican and Democratic parties, who use a closed primary system that excludes the 37% (365,795) of Maine voters who declare themselves Independents. Big money and party politics are driving decisions on policy matters and deciding who gets elected.
Is it any wonder that there are movements across the country to change the way in which our representatives are elected? Initiatives such as Open Primaries, getting big money out of politics, doing away with superdelegates and the electoral College, and creating more transparency in government, are signs that the public is fed up with partisan politics.
Posted by Jesse Shayne on March 16, 2017 at 3:04 PM
New Mexico Open Primaries (NMOP) made history last week after SB 205 and HB 206, for open primaries, both passed through a committee in their respective chambers. Even with the political establishment standing in their way, and one state senator dead set on obstructing the progress of SB 205, the team at NMOP persisted. Through the power of grassroots activism -- and with the aid of hundreds of volunteers and a Common Cause poll indicating that 71 percent of New Mexicans support open primaries -- NMOP, and its founder, Bob Perls, came within striking distance of passing this much-needed reform in the Land of Enchantment.
No set of open primaries bills had ever moved this far through a state legislature, in any state, until now. Even more remarkable, these bills had bipartisan support.
Posted by Jesse Shayne on March 15, 2017 at 3:08 PM
I was raised in a Republican household. Both sides of my family had been party members as long as anyone could remember. When I finally reached the age of eighteen, there was no question what I would register as. I reached political maturity watching the unfolding of the Watergate scandal and the aftermath.
Over time, I became more informed and critical of the party line. By the time of George H.W. Bush I was mistrustful of the conservative wing taking over the GOP. I was a moderate in the stamp of the by-now-disappearing Rockefeller Republican. I felt like a stranger in my own party. I registered as an independent for the first time in 1991. I am registered as an independent still.
Posted by Jesse Shayne on February 16, 2017 at 1:50 PM
Millions of Americans were outraged over the 2016 presidential primaries and what they see as a rigged system where the establishment has a disproportionate amount of control. Over 26 million registered voters were prohibited from participating in the primaries last year. Yet, even as millions of voters continue to leave both parties in droves, the RNC and DNC seem wedded to the status quo.
With both parties set to select new chairs, Open Primaries has been busy pressuring the incoming leaders of the RNC and DNC to respond to the will of the people, and open the primaries in every state. Nearly 60,000 Americans have already signed their petition.
Posted by Jesse Shayne on January 18, 2017 at 2:53 PM
Our closed primary system in Oregon essentially disenfranchises from meaningful participation in the primary elections some thirty per cent of Oregon voters (700,000 people) who do not identify with either the Republican or Democratic parties.
Independents like myself should not have to become party members in order to vote in these publicly funded primaries either here or in other closed primary states. Besides being fundamentally undemocratic, a closed primary’s typical consequence is that only some 20% of a state’s voters turn out to vote, and those that do are usually the most ideologically conservative or liberal.
I have signed the petition urging citizens to support the national movement to open up primaries across the U.S. and would like to urge others to also support this worthy political reform effort.
Posted by Jesse Shayne on January 03, 2017 at 10:56 AM
"We Americans choose to live where we can find work. As a result, I'm a liberal who has lived in multiple conservative states over the past two decades.
My interest and growing concerns in politics has brought me to the realization that unless I change my "official" party affiliation, I will have no voice in primary elections. So, in 2020, I will officially become a RINO (Republican In Name Only) unless my RED state embraces Open Primaries."
Posted by Jesse Shayne on December 09, 2016 at 9:53 AM
Tuesday night, the Open Primaries movement made itself heard loud and clear at a NYC Votes public hearing on the dysfunction of New York’s arcane electoral system. Following an election season with three different primaries, filled with long lines, purged voter files, and overall voter dissatisfaction -- not to mention 3.2 million New Yorkers who couldn’t even vote -- the NYC Campaign Finance Board decided to give voters a public platform to express themselves.
The frustration of voters was palpable from the get-go. Complaints were lodged in a number of directions, from the unfairness of the Electoral College to incompetent poll workers.
Early on, 20-year-old Open Primaries Committee Member Kenneth Shelton got an opportunity to talk about empowering youth voters and his first experience voting in a presidential election. Kenneth spoke in-depth about conversations he’s held with his Millennial peers -- many of whom feel disaffected and marginalized by our political system. It’s no secret, of course, that despite being one of the biggest voting blocs in our country, Millennials don’t have as much political bargaining power as one might expect; Kenneth made that point very clear. His eloquent testimony was received a raucous round of applause.
Posted by Jesse Shayne on December 07, 2016 at 2:45 PM
Yesterday afternoon, lawyer and activist Mark Moody delivered his legal argument on the unconstitutionality of New York’s closed primary system. Moody also argued that New York’s change of party affiliation deadline -- the earliest in the country -- places an unfair burden on voters.
Two lawyers -- one from the Board of Elections and another from Attorney General Schneiderman’s office -- stood in defense of an electoral system that prohibits 3.2 million voters from participating in the most impactful round of voting.
The courtroom was overflowing with dozens of supporters of open primaries and independent voter rights; the security guards shepherded extra seats from the backroom throughout the trial; the judge made an exception and let spectators sit in the jury box after admitting that he had never seen so many people in his courtroom; and there were still twenty more activists standing in the corner.
Posted by Jesse Shayne on December 06, 2016 at 1:20 PM
Now more than ever, Americans lack confidence in politics. Don’t believe me? In 2016, 80% of Americans don’t trust the government to do the right thing. Instead, Americans are increasingly disillusioned with a government that is more interested in playing politics than in creating real reforms for the American people.
Americans aren’t alone in their frustration with federal gridlock and hyper-partisanship. The Harvard Business School (HBS) recently released a study that identifies political dysfunction as the, “single most important challenge to U.S economic progress.” That’s right: the political climate is so bad that it’s even hurting U.S. business.
This link between a dysfunctional political system and poor economic performance is incredibly important. It sometimes seems like the government is far removed from our daily lives, but this report shows how political dysfunction can hurt everyday Americans on at least one level. Our economy suffers when our government is dysfunctional, and economic stagnation hurts us all.
Posted by Jesse Shayne on November 21, 2016 at 5:10 PM
Good afternoon. Thank you to the Citizens Union for organizing today’s event.
Looking at the state of our political process and its relationship to the voters is so timely!
I serve on the Board of Directors of Open Primaries. I want to thank John Opdyke, President and founder of Open Primaries, Jeremy Gruber from Open Primaries, and Cathy Stewart of Independentvoting.org for their work and for being here today.
I am a medical doctor, a community organizer and a political activist, and throughout my years of activism it has been deeply important to me to work to bridge the ongoing racial, social and ideological divides in our society.
A towering leader who brought together a movement that inspired Americans of different races and walks of life was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1965, at the end of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Dr. King spoke about the centrality of the right to vote. He said that the denial of the right to vote is at the very origins of “the root cause of racial segregation in the south.” Then he went on to discuss the populist movement in the post Civil War period, how poor black and white farmers were brought together. But, Dr. King explained, this alliance was destroyed by white Southern Bourbon elites, Jim Crow laws and violent intimidation.