Posted by Jesse Shayne on March 02, 2017 at 10:34 AM
Pennsylvania senator wants independent voters in state primaries
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania Sen. Lisa Boscola said state Senate leaders are drafting a voters bill of rights, a collection of bipartisan proposals that would make it easier to vote with things like no-excuse required absentee ballots, same-day registration and pre-registration of younger voters when they get their first drivers license.
Boscola said the package also addresses gerrymandering.
"Take it out of the hands of the elected officials and put it into the hands of the citizenry, like some other states have done, that promotes better government," said Boscola.
Boscola said she is working on a bill that would build that better government by allowing independent voters to participate in primary elections.
"If you opened it up and allowed independents to vote in the primary, you are going to have to go after a lot more people and talk to a lot more people, and I think our whole, as far as government, would change," said Boscola.
A recent Gallup poll asked voters which party they identified with. Forty-four percent of those polled said independent.
Pennsylvania is one of nine states that have a closed primary.
Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, said while it would make elections more inclusive and politicians accountable to a wider swatch of people, an open primary in Pennsylvania is an uphill battle.
"The parties that control state government have never been very keen on seeing their primaries open to those who are outside of their party designation," said Borick.
Boscola said the open primary bill and the voter bill of rights package will be considered by the full Senate in the coming weeks.