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The latest from the movement

Are voting rights for all voters? Let's ask Hillary

Posted by Caitlin Kelly on June 30, 2015 at 12:06 PM

This article was published by Jacqueline Salit for the Arizona Republic. 635708554808358322-hillary-clinton-smile.jpg

Naturally, Ted brought this up on the air, and we had a disagreement about whether independents feel apathetic (his view) or feel alienated (my view). The extreme culture of partisanship makes most people feel powerless, because they are.

The increase in independent voters — now 35 percent of Arizonans and 42 percent of Americans — is a statement about that powerlessness. When people choose a political identity that is other than what the parties want, it is an act of resistance, a step towards changing the partisan nature of the system.

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Poll: Should New Jersey and Pennsylvania switch to open primary elections?

Posted by Caitlin Kelly on June 26, 2015 at 11:13 AM

This article was published by Jim Flagg for

New Jersey voters going to the polls in Tuesday's primary election were limited in their choices: Republicans could vote for Republicans, Democrats could vote for Democrats.

Period. That's the way a "closed" primary works, and it effectively prevents almost half of the state's voters, who are registered as independents or other parties, from having a say in nominating candidates.

Pennsylvania runs under the same closed system, which proponents say is essential to maintain a healthy two-party system.

But what we have now is an unhealthy two-party system, based on voter interest. Turnout in non-presidential years is embarrassing. In the May 19 Pennsylvania primary, less than 13 percent of registered voters in Northampton County took part.

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Philly elections need a shot of 21st-century reforms

Posted by Caitlin Kelly on June 26, 2015 at 11:12 AM

This article was published by David Thornburgh for 


For the Committee of Seventy, Philadelphia’s long-standing government reform advocate, election day is like Christmas Day and the Super Bowl rolled into one. It comes after a long season of working to help educate, inform, and engage voters about what we believe are the hugely significant choices we all make about who will lead us for the next four years.

This past primary election season, we partnered with 27 different civic leadership groups to produce 15 forums and events that drew more than 5,000 Philadelphians. Our heavily trafficked website drew 53,000 visitors in search of information on candidates and issues and on where and when to vote.

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Corrales-Based Campaign May Bring Open Primaries to New Mexico

Posted by Caitlin Kelly on June 26, 2015 at 11:12 AM

This article was published by Jeff Radford for the Corrales Comment.

A statewide campaign to open up primary elections to all registered voters has been launched in Corrales.

The aim is to restore the democratic process in New Mexico and throughout the United States, according to Corrales’ former State Representative Bob Perls, who heads the new non-profit New Mexican Open Primaries.

After incorporating the group this spring and recruiting a board of directors from supporters among Republicans, Democrats and independents, Perls hopes to gain sufficient support to convince the N.M. Legislature to allow New Mexicans to vote on a constitutional amendment establishing non-partisan primary elections.

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New Research shows California's Top Two, nonpartisan primary empowers minorities and young voting blocs

Posted by Kellie Ryan on June 25, 2015 at 12:25 PM

This article was published by Daisy Campos for the Independent Voter Network.

minority-voters-600x328.jpgNew research on the effects of California’s nonpartisan, top-two primary suggests that many California voters are responding positively to the new election system, though opinions still vary greatly. In their book, Nonpartisan Primary Election Reform, authors R. Michael Alvarez and J. Andrew Sinclair found that many voters appear to be be empowered by “Top-Two” — especially minority and young voting blocs.

California voters approved the top-two primary in 2010 under Proposition 14. Under the new system, all candidates and voters, regardless of political affiliation, participate on a single primary ballot. The top two vote-getters in the primary election then move on to the general election in November (again, regardless of party or how much of the vote either candidate receives).

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Learn with the Intern: The History of the Independent Movement

Posted by Samantha Serrano on June 24, 2015 at 12:14 PM

Activists2.jpgUnlike many other countries, in the United States, there are only two consistently competitive political parties that are noticed during elections—the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The American system is commonly called a "two-party system" because there have historically been only two major political parties with candidates competing for offices. This system can be traced back to the first two emerging “parties” that disagreed over specific details contained within the Constitution; the Federalists and Anti-federalists.

However, after reading about the Independent Movement through political activist Jacqueline Salit’s book, Independents Rising, one can see that outsider movements, third parties, and the battle for a post-partisan country have been under way for years, trying to prove to Americans that they do not need to label themselves in one political party to see positive change occur.

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Letter from the President: Obama, partisanship and American values

Posted by John Opdycke on June 23, 2015 at 11:21 AM

wtf_obama.pngPresident Obama appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast this week. It was an excellent interview, highlighted by their discussion about the political gridlock and voter disconnect that characterizes modern America.  

The President said something that fascinated me. He asked a simple question:  

"In light of the growing gap between the decency and values of the American people and the cynical and partisan political institutions that we live with, how do we create more space for people to have an ordinary conversation in which the lines are not so clearly drawn?"  

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Learn with the Intern: Nebraska Makes a Statement

Posted by Samantha Serrano on June 19, 2015 at 5:10 PM

Nebraska2.gifRecently, the state of Nebraska passed new legislation that caught major attention in its political realm.  The Midwestern state is known to be a very red, conservative area. However, with some debate and discussion, it has recently been producing a more liberal agenda. How is this possible? Nebraska has a very unique structure that devises its State Legislature.

Nebraska is both unicameral and nonpartisan. Instead of dividing primaries to select Republican, Democratic, and other partisan candidates, Nebraska uses a single, nonpartisan primary election, wherein the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. Nebraska’s Legislature has no formal party alignments or groups, and coalitions form issue by issue. It is currently the only state in the nation with this system.

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Q&A: Meet Open Primaries Communications Associate Zach Handler

Posted by Kellie Ryan on June 16, 2015 at 3:38 PM

zach_handler.jpgZach Handler is a Communications Associate for Open Primaries. Zach also serves as a Development Associate for our friends at  His past political work includes the campaign of U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan and NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri. Zach holds a B.A. in Politics and Theatre Arts from Brandeis University. Originally from St. Louis, he now calls New York City-specifically his bachelor pad in the East Village--home. Zach is also a professional actor and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast.  




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Learn with the Intern: How our political system became so "broken"

Posted by Samantha Serrano on June 15, 2015 at 9:53 AM

samserrano_headshot.jpgAs a first time intern, working with Open Primaries has been quite the eye opening experience. Despite the fact that I attend one of the most politically active universities in the country (GWU) and have taken multiple government and politics classes, never have I put serious thought into America’s problems regarding election reform until now.

I cannot count how many times I have heard individuals say the phrase, “The government is broken and America needs change.” This phrase is common at school, at home, and even on the five o’clock news.  With so much frustration building in American citizens, I was curious to know what the root of political issues is and just how our system became so “broken”.

Through working with Open Primaries, I am able to say confidently that the problem begins with partisan-ism and unfair elections. One of the first things I learned once I joined this organization is that 40% of voters do not want to be affiliated with either major political party. This means that about every 4 in 10 Americans identify themselves as Independent. What does this have to do with unsatisfied constituents?  Here’s where the problem becomes complex.

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