Open Primaries 2016: A look back
2016 was the biggest year for our movement yet!
Thank you to everyone who supported the Open Primaries movement in 2016. We accomplished more this year than we could have ever imagined, thanks in large part to our volunteers and activists from across the country.
When 2016 began, open primaries was a fringe issue, but now we know that 70 percent of Americans support us. Thousands of voters from every state stood up and demanded change from the parties this year, and as a result, our movement grew immensely and another state passed open primaries. Voters are now organizing in states across the country, from New York to Oregon, to restore our democracy.
We still have a ways to go to take back our politics for the people, but there were many milestones on that journey in 2016. Thanks to everyone who supported us this year.
Scroll down to see everything we accomplished this year.
Open Primaries worked with Colorado activist and business leader, Kent Thiry, to launch the Let Colorado Vote campaign and introduce two ballot measures for reform in a state where unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats and Republicans. Colorado voters overwhelmingly passed Propositions 107 & 108 to open the federal and state primaries and to replace the presidential caucus with an open primary, after their anger over Colorado’s dysfunctional 2016 presidential caucus reached a boiling point. Victory in Colorado shows that electoral reform is possible when the people come together to overcome establishment obstruction.
In South Dakota, a diverse coalition of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents came together and successfully put Amendment V -- a top-two primaries ballot measure -- on the 2016 ballot. Over 115,000 voters are excluded from the primary process in South Dakota, and many are frustrated by their limited choice in a state dominated by one party. Open Primaries supported local activists’ education and outreach efforts, as they crisscrossed the state to show voters that “politics as usual” didn’t have to be the status quo for the Mount Rushmore State. Amendment V received 45% of the vote, the strongest support for a top-two ballot initiative in a first-time ballot campaign.
With allegations and revelations running wild throughout the presidential primary season, the media could not contain the outcry from the American people against a rigged electoral system. The 2016 primary season brought the issues facing our political process to the forefront of political debate. In the backdrop of one of the most heated presidential elections in a generation, millions of voters reconciled with a system that either locked them out entirely, or forced them to choose between the lesser of two evils. The dissatisfaction and chaos, from Arizona to New York, sparked a movement demanding primary reform.
Convention Petition Campaign
In the spring and summer, Open Primaries activists canvassed, phone banked, and organized a petition demanding that the parties open the primaries to all voters. Open Primaries delivered over 40,000 signatures to the Democratic and Republican Rules Committees, urging them to vote on opening the primaries in all 50 states at their respective conventions. Open Primaries was shut out of the GOP discussion, but helped deter the work of delegates who proposed closing more primaries. Activists managed to get a resolution introduced to the DNC Rules Committee -- the first open primaries measure ever voted on at a party convention. The resolution was defeated in a vote, but Open Primaries made headlines and got the attention of the establishment by standing up to them and telling them that they cannot be the gatekeepers of our political process.
New York Rally
Voters in New York are outraged with the state’s particularly arcane and unfair primary system. Between closed primaries, the six month change of party affiliation deadline, voter purges, and long lines, New York’s primary system has actively disengaged and disenfranchised millions of voters. There are more unaffiliated voters in New York than there are registered Republicans, and yet, the voices of the 3.2 million unaffiliated voters continue to be marginalized. On the day of New York’s closed presidential primary, Open Primaries organized a rally on the steps of City Hall demanding an end to New York’s arcane system. Jackie Salit, President of IndependentVoting.org; community activist Alvadeer Fraizer; and New York State Assembly Member Fred Thiele -- the only independent candidate in the state legislature -- spoke out against the broken system that allows the parties to maintain their power over the will of the people.
The Movement is Growing
Our movement is growing. 2016 was a watershed year in the fight for open primaries. The American people are fed up with the a broken system that deliberately disenfranchises or marginalizes their voice. The presidential election and primary process brought to light a profound question: Who does democracy belong to, the parties or the people?
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