Voters Across Florida Crowd Hearings To Demand Open Primaries - Open Primaries
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Posted on May 18, 2017 at 11:26 AM

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Jeremy Gruber
Senior Vice President
jgruber@openprimaries.org
(609) 610-1602

Voters Across Florida Crowd Hearings To Demand Open Primaries

Voters Across Florida Crowd Hearings To Demand Open Primaries

Miami, FL – May 18, 2017 – The Florida Constitution Revision Commission concluded their first round of public hearings before a capacity crowd last night in Tampa, where dozens of Floridians spoke out for the need to reform the state’s outdated and exclusionary primary system. The Tampa hearing was the last of nine public hearings held across the state--from Miami to Jacksonville-by the Commission since March. Open primaries has emerged as a central topic since the first hearing and throughout the process.

Over the last two months, scores of Floridians have publicly shared their experiences of being locked out of voting and encouraged the Commissioners to put a primary reform measure on the ballot. Their testimony has been as diverse as it was heartfelt. For example, Giancarlo Espinosa from Key West drove almost 200 miles to testify at the Miami hearing in April where he declared: “We need to stop preventing citizens of the United States of America from participating in the political process.”

Video: Voter Testimonials at Recent Constitution Revision Commission Hearings

Florida’s current election system bars 3.5 million independent voters – well over a quarter of registered voters in the state -- from casting their votes in primary elections. A recent poll found broad support for reforming the state’s primary elections, with 73% of Floridians-including supermajorities of Republican, Democrat and independent voters-supporting having the Constitution Revision Commission put an open primaries initiative before the voters.

This unprecedented level of support for reform comes in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Primaries, which drew claims of a “rigged” process and saw 26 million independent voters across the country, including 3.5 million Floridians, locked out of the first round of elections. Florida voters paid over $13 million dollars in 2016 alone for closed, partisan primaries according to a recent analyses.

Florida based reform groups Progress for All and Florida Fair and Open Primaries (FFAOP) have been amplifying the call for primary reform statewide. The growing coalition for primary reform in Florida will spend the summer educating voters and preparing for the next round of public hearings in the fall.

"Since the first hearing of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission held in Orlando on March 29, dozens of people have attended the hearings in order to speak out in support of open primaries for Florida. Hundreds of others have expressed support and committed to submit written statements to the commission. We plan to continue and expand the momentum over the coming months. Hopefully, Commissioners are listening."

–Steve Hough, Florida Fair and Open Primaries

"Citizens across the state of Florida have stood up at hearing after hearing of the Constitutional Revision Commission to express their aspirations for a stronger democracy. They have demanded the opportunity to participate in the electoral process in open primaries, regardless of party affiliation. Florida taxpayers contribute millions of dollars to operate these primaries, which are then closed by a political duopoly that fears competition and fears the voters. Meanwhile, statewide public opinion surveys show overwhelming support for open primaries, with supermajorities in every party demanding this reform. We call on the Constitutional Revision Commission to listen to the people of Florida and place an open primary referendum on the state ballot in 2018.”

- Tim Canova, Chair of Progress for All

"The turmoil and partisanship in the DC bubble is the result of keeping the people out, not too much democracy. What's so exciting about the CRC hearings is that Democrats, Republicans, and especially independents from all across Florida are stepping up the mic and saying we know how to move Florida and the country forward. Let everyone vote for whomever they want! Get the gatekeepers out of the way and let the people in! That's a powerful statement to make about the need to democratize the process in the face of gridlock, partisanship, polarization, and scandal."

-John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries

Available for Interview
Tim Canova, Chair of Progress for All (based in Hollywood, FL.)
Steve Hough, Florida Fair and Open Primaries (based in Southport, FL.)
John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries (based in New York City)
Giancarlo Espinosa (based in Key West, FL.)

Progress for All is a small-donor based grassroots political and community action group supporting progressive candidates and causes at the national, state, and local levels.

Florida Fair and Open Primaries (FFAOP) is a grass roots non-partisan, volunteer organization that supports adding a constitutional amendment to the ballot to change Florida primary elections from a closed system to a top two open primary system.

Open Primaries is a national, election reform organization working to enact open and nonpartisan primary systems, counter efforts to close primaries, educate voters, train and support spokespeople, and participate in the building of local, state and national coalitions.


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