Posted on June 02, 2015 at 3:19 PM
Mississippi Voters Overwhelmingly Seek Election Reform, Finds PollFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mississippi Voters Overwhelmingly Seek Election System Reform, Finds Poll
- 72 percent of voters polled think Mississippi needs a more fair election system.
- 94 percent of Mississippians surveyed believe voters need to have as much or more power as political parties.
- 85 percent of voters polled think a nonpartisan system will force politicians to represent the people and not the parties.
- 86 percent believe closed primaries would be a step backwards for the state.
New York, NY – [June 1, 2015] — Open Primaries, a national political reform organization, released today poll results showing Mississippi voters’ overwhelming desire for an election system more focused on a candidate’s credentials, rather than political partisanship. Open Primaries’ polling stems from a review of the state’s primary election system following the 2014 midterm U.S. Senate Primary race between Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran, commissioned by Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
McDaniel argued that Mississippi should close their primaries to keep non-party members from voting in party primaries, while Hosemann’s Election Committee recommended Mississippi move to a Top Two, nonpartisan primary system. In a Top Two system, all candidates appear on one ballot, every voter votes in the primary election, and the top two candidates, regardless of party, move on to the general election.
Open Primaries took this recommendation to Mississippi primary voters to gauge their appetite for the Top Two primary structure. Open Primaries surveyed 250 voters in total: 125 voters who participated in the 2014 Cochran/McDaniel Republican Primary, and 125 voters who participated in at least one of the last three Democratic primary elections. Outreach was concluded on May 12.
In a Top Two, nonpartisan primary system, candidates must appeal to all voters, rather than just the narrow interests of the party base that tend to turn out in a primary election. This system creates a legislature that answers to the voters and not the parties. Having all candidates appear on one ballot means voters can vote for a candidate based on the individual, rather than the party they represent.
According to Dr. Lenora Fulani, a national advocate for nonpartisan primaries and the first African-American to appear on the presidential ballot in all 50 states, the issue of primary reform is especially important for black Americans. “Voter mobility is an important issue for black Americans. 35 percent of Blacks under the age of 40 are independent, which is a huge change from a generation ago. We don’t want party membership to be a requirement for voting, and we don’t want to be locked into voting for one party. The more mobility and independence we have, the more power we have.”
“A Top Two system would bring significant benefits to Mississippi voters as we have seen in other states such as California. The California Legislature is still dominated by Democrats, just as it was under the old partisan system. Today, however, Democratic legislators are much less vulnerable to being told what to do by their party leaders,” said John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries. “They don’t just ask party leadership how to vote. They talk to their constituents and vote based on a variety of inputs. So while Democrats may constitute a super majority in the California Legislature, the Democratic Party does not control it. That is a huge and consequential distinction for all Californians and would benefit Mississippi voters as well.”
Closed primaries are fundamentally unfair as they bar millions of Americans from voting, increase partisanship in state legislatures and in Congress, and make it more difficult for Americans—both voters and elected officials—to come together across ideological lines. Open Primaries hopes Mississippi will act upon the very thoughtful report issued by Secretary of State Hosemann and move to a nonpartisan primary system.
Please see below for poll results.
Open Primaries is a national, nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization working to enact open and nonpartisan primary systems, counter efforts to impose closed primaries, educate voters, train and support spokespeople, and participate in the building of local, state and national open primaries coalitions. Open Primaries is a movement of diverse Americans who believe in a simple, yet radical idea: no American should be required to join a political party to exercise their right to vote.