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Independent voters have second-class status in American democracy

Posted by Jesse Shayne on July 20, 2017 at 3:39 PM

This article was written by Open Primaries President John Opdycke for The Hill

"Morning Joe" is in mourning. The deceased is the Republican Party of balanced budgets and international restraint.

MSNBC host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough announced last week that he was leaving the Republican Party. In an impassioned piece for The Washington Post, Scarborough cited Donald Trump’s actions and Republican Party leadership’s silence as the basis of his decision:

“The wreckage visited of this man will break the Republican Party into pieces — and lead to the election of independent thinkers no longer tethered to the tired dogmas of the polarized past. When that day mercifully arrives, the two-party duopoly that has strangled American politics for almost two centuries will finally come to an end. And Washington just may begin to work again.”

Welcome to the (anti-) party, Scarborough! You are joining the roughly 45 percent of Americans who are abandoning the Democratic and Republican Parties or never joined them in the first place. Not only are our ranks growing, but political scientists and pollsters are finally acknowledging that independents are not apathetic fence-sitters but engaged Americans concerned about how the parties and partisanship are ruining our country.

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America needs to get rid of closed primaries

Posted by Jesse Shayne on July 20, 2017 at 12:59 PM

This editorial was published by The Independent Florida Alligator

As we’re sure you are aware, Florida is a closed primary state. This means that in order to vote in a primary election, Florida residents must be registered with a political party. It also means in the primaries, they are only be able to vote for candidates running for a position within their registered party. In general elections, however, they are able to vote for any candidate in any party.

In our opinion, closed primary states need to be brought to an end. Not only are they restrictive and suppressive, but they further divide our nation by strengthening party identification.

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Dr. King And The Meaning Of Voting Rights

Posted by Jesse Shayne on July 17, 2017 at 12:59 PM

This article was written by Open Primaries Board Member Dr. Jessie Fields

The fight for voting rights for African Americans produced a historic outcome, the Voting Rights Act, but party politics continues to cut short the potential of the movement to fully empower the African American community and to sustain an ongoing process involving the American people.

The hard fought battles and sacrifices, the marches and protests of the nonviolent civil rights movement of the mid twentieth century has enshrined in the American soul the doctrine of equal voting rights, but the vision of the movement that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave voice to did not end in the passage of legislation. He often spoke of the central role of voting rights in addressing racial segregation, “Our whole campaign in Alabama has been centered around the right to vote. In focusing the attention of the nation and the world today on the flagrant denial of the right to vote, we are exposing the very origin, the root cause, of racial segregation in the Southland.”

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Why Missouri needs an open primary system

Posted by Jesse Shayne on July 05, 2017 at 12:18 PM

Like a lot of Missouri voters, I’m beyond angry at our recent divisive presidential election and scandal-plagued state legislature. It’s time to vent that anger at the real culprit: an election system rigged against the voters.

If you’re like me, you have deeply held political principles, but right now you’d prefer if news about politics just went away.

For the media and political parties, politics is just about putting people in boxes and keeping them there. As an African-American woman who has sometimes struggled to make ends meet, I know this all too well. After all, according to the political parties and media I should be a Democrat and should have voted for Hillary Clinton. In fact, I’m an independent, and Clinton did not receive my vote. It confuses the political know-it-alls that many in the black community, like me, think for themselves.

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Want to fix American politics? Open up the primaries

Posted by Jesse Shayne on June 28, 2017 at 9:59 AM

This article was written by Open Primaries President John Opdycke for The Hill

DC politics has gone mad.

Americans are now treated to a 24/7 freak show of government dysfunction, charges and countercharges, midnight tweets and myriad other forms of dystopian political theatre.

Politics has become toxic.

The professional pundits and their assembled panelists profess their disgust at the toxicity — and then gleefully throw another log on the fire.

Is there any way for the American people to intervene?

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New York Votes Act Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Posted by Jesse Shayne on June 13, 2017 at 11:01 AM

This article was written by Jeremy Kaplan for the Gotham Gazette

In February, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman introduced the New York Votes Act, a comprehensive set of bills to protect and expand voting rights in New York. Among other issues, the Act includes no-excuse absentee ballots, early voting, and automatic voter registration.

This legislation is a step in the right direction, but I worry that it ignores the most impactful form of voter suppression facing New York: the state’s closed primary system.

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Dems Stumble on Voter Issues

Posted by Jesse Shayne on June 13, 2017 at 10:52 AM

This article was written by Nevadans for Election Reform Founder Doug Goodman for the Las Vegas Sun

Voter suppression can be defined as any attempt to curtail voter participation. Obvious methods include voter ID, proof of citizenship, and reducing poll locations and hours. Skillfully concealed methods include requiring membership in a specific political party to vote in publicly funded elections, not restoring the right of all voters to have a voice in who represents them, revoking the right to vote for a city official and not instituting a voting method that would increase participation.

Voter suppression as public policy is unfathomable. Yet that’s exactly what Democratic leadership in the Legislature has done.

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COMMENTARY: The Supreme Court and Voting Rights

Posted by Jesse Shayne on June 08, 2017 at 10:46 AM

This article was written by Open Primaries Spokesperson Dr. Jessie Fields for the Chicago Defender

History shows that ideals are oft times contradicted in practice; there’s no greater example than in a democracy that held Blacks as slaves but was founded on the idea expressed in the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”. Thus the highest court in the land has a mixed and complex history of rulings on issues of citizenship and voting rights, rulings that are influenced in unpredictable ways by social and political change in the country.

One of the most fundamental changes in the country today is the fact that more and more Americans choose not to affiliate with either the Republican or Democratic Party—44 percent of the American electorate are now independents.

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Prediction: New York Lawmakers Won’t Do Anything to End Voter Suppression

Posted by Jesse Shayne on June 06, 2017 at 10:43 AM

This article was written by Shawn M. Griffiths for IVN

New York voters are not likely to get a win in the current state legislative session. That is, at least, the prediction of an article published in the Gotham Gazette Monday. 

The legislative session ends on June 21, yet the only legislation passed by both chambers that even remotely deals with election reform is a bill that allows poll workers to work 8-hour, half-day shifts.

That is good news for poll workers, but it does nothing to better enfranchise voters.

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Let's experiment with open primaries in Philadelphia

Posted by Jesse Shayne on May 30, 2017 at 10:15 AM

This article was written by Chris Satullo for Philly.com

Would you pay happily for a product that offers skimpy choices and spotty performance, one you suspect is a culprit behind societal trends that dismay you?

No, right?

Then please explain why our tax dollars continue to flow, without public debate, to pay for the primary elections staged in Pennsylvania by the Democratic and Republican parties.

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