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The latest from the movement

State Legislators Dislike Gridlock Too

Posted by Al Benninghoff on August 19, 2015 at 12:02 PM

NSCL_booth.jpgWe knew attending the National Conference of State Legislators was the right decision the moment Washington State Senator Joe Fain announced his support for Top Two to a room full of legislators. He encouraged them all to learn more about the issue from us, he did it completely unsolicited, and he did it simply because he saw us in the room with our promotional materials. As he spoke, I looked at my watch: we were only three hours into the first day and we had already made a huge impact. And, it only got better.

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Letter from the President: State Legislators support open, nonpartisan primaries

Posted by John Opdycke on August 13, 2015 at 10:59 AM

NCSL_OP4.jpgLast week, Open Primaries leaders Al Benninghoff, Adriana Espinoza (NY), Patrick McWhortor (AZ) and Jason Olson (CA) spent four days at the National Conference of State Legislators talking with elected officials and their staff about the impact of “Top Two” in California. 

You might think that the NCSL would be the last place on earth to recruit and educate. After all, primary reform is fundamentally about taking power from the political parties and giving it to the people. Democratic and Republican legislators would be the last people interested in radical structural reform. 

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Top Two Brings Californians Real Choice in Congressional Elections

Posted by Griffin Kenny on August 11, 2015 at 1:32 PM

Graphic_Four2.jpgOn August 4th Open Primaries released a comprehensive report on the impact Top Two primaries have had on California and its politics.

The report found this reform led to substantial positive changes to Californian government; California’s legislature has become significantly more productive, all voters are more fairly represented, and more elected officials face competitive elections.

This rise in competitive elections has been particularly important in improving how California politics and government functions.

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Voter Empowerment Leads to Rapid Decline in California Political Partisanship

Posted by Jeremy Gruber on August 10, 2015 at 3:24 PM

Graphic_Five2.jpgMeasured by self-identification, partisanship is actually declining — growing numbers of Americans describe themselves as independent (currently 43%), rather than loyal to one of the parties. But measured by actual voting behavior, the opposite seems to be happening: Straight ticket voting continues to grow.  

Why the paradox?

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Learn with the Intern: The Proof is in the California Pudding

Posted by Samantha Serrano on August 06, 2015 at 2:54 PM

OPFlorida.jpgThe Sunshine State has been making major headlines this week regarding the national movement to open primary elections. A bipartisan group of activists is pushing for a state constitutional amendment that would allow voters to vote for Republicans or Democrats no matter how you're registered to vote in Florida.  

Called the "All Voters Vote” Amendment, it's main goal is to open primaries, and therefore give a voice to the growing number of Floridians who are written out of the state's primary election system because they choose not to register with any political party.  

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Learn with the Intern: California is a Role Model

Posted by Samantha Serrano on August 06, 2015 at 10:35 AM

quietrevolutioncover.pngPrior to its use of Top Two nonpartisan primaries, the state of California was considered one of the most partisan political environments in the nation. Runaway deficits and gridlocked budgets were standard. Lawmakers brave enough to work across party lines found a system rigged against them.  Both California’s citizens and elected officials tried for years to reform their election system to reduce its ineffective design.  

Beginning in 1974, California voters enacted comprehensive campaign finance and disclosure regulations thanks to President Nixon and the Watergate scandal.   However, these regulations did not lesson or get rid of the overly partisan nature of the political and legislative environment. Until the 90’s, legislators still fancied high incumbency rates, a semi-closed primary system, and a complex system of gerrymandering to create “safe” districts.

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Independent does not mean uniformed

Posted by Hilary Forrest on August 05, 2015 at 1:28 PM

hilary_headshot_small.jpgPrior to this internship, I did not realize nearly how many independent voters are out there. I thought myself to be unique by stating that I am independent because I am ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal’- but in fact a whole lot of people say this. The number one reason why voters identify as Independent is because he/she has values that align with both political parties.

As an intern at Open Primaries, I conduct phone banking each week, surveying active voters about nonpartisan primary elections. The intent is to gather data on how Americans feel about the movement toward an election system based on the candidates, not the parties.

On a call with a voter from Florida, I asked if he would support a top-two system where unaffiliated (not just Democrat and Republican) voters can vote in the primaries too. He responded, “Absolutely not. Independent means uneducated and uninformed and they don’t deserve the right to vote.” I started to question the truth behind this statement.

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Intern's Insight: Ready to Amend, Florida Fights for Fair Primaries

Posted by Caitlin Kelly on July 29, 2015 at 12:28 PM

Florida.gifAs one of the twelve states that follows a strict closed primary system, Florida looks to take a stand with the introduction of the All Voters Vote amendment. Florida’s current system allows its registered 4.2 million Republicans and 4.6 million Democrats to participate in primary elections, but denies the other 3.2 million that same right.

In the past ten years, the number of Florida voters who have decided not to affiliate with one of the two main parties has increased by 1 million, while Democrats have seen an increase of 300,000 and Republicans have seen a 200,000 increase.

So why is Florida silencing the fastest growing group of constituents? Not only in their state, but a trend that has been sweeping the nation.

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Learn with the Intern: New Jersey's Closed Primaries

Posted by Samantha Serrano on July 29, 2015 at 12:21 PM

New-Jersey.gifWithin the past few weeks, the mission of Open Primaries has been hitting close to home for me as the Independent Voter Project (IVP) is currently petitioning SCOTUS  for Writ of Certiorari to challenge the constitutionality of New Jersey’s closed primary system.

New Jersey utilizes a strictly closed primary process, in which the selection of a party's candidates in an election is limited to registered party members. In other words, independent and unaffiliated voters cannot vote in the primary elections in this state.  New Jersey exemplifies the exact system that Open Primaries is working so diligently to change to promote nonpartisan voter equality.

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Faces of Open Primaries: When I refuse to affiliate, I have no voice

Posted by on July 24, 2015 at 10:37 AM

megan_headshot_small.jpgAfter a short melody of mouse clicks my transformation is complete. Now the state of Colorado thinks I'm a Democrat, but my loyalty is a ruse.  Despite my ease, this trick required sacrifice.  I had to swallow my ideological pride, disown my integrity, and align myself with an organization I neither trust nor respect.  In exchange I may vote for my candidate in the primaries; through a single dishonest act, I am permitted to engage in our democracy.

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