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New York Primary is Uncompetitive and Undemocratic

Posted by jesse shayne on September 26, 2017 at 9:55 AM

On September 12, New York held its primary elections, and once again, a quarter of the state’s voting population -- the 3.2 million Independent and unaffiliated voters who refuse to join a party -- were barred from participating. Unsurprisingly, multiple seats went uncontested, with no Republican primary for the mayoral election.

In the race for mayor, incumbent Bill de Blasio easily won the Democratic primary with 75% of the vote. He’ll go on to face Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis, who ran uncontested and thus advanced to the general election. Not a single incumbent New York City Council member lost their seat, and the majority of Republican NYC Council candidates ran unopposed. The three non-Democratic candidates for Public Advocate ran uncontested, and in the race for Manhattan DA, the incumbent won uncontested.

Uncompetitive elections are nothing new for New York. In its 2016 State Senate election, about half the seats were uncontested or virtually uncontested. The 2016 State Assembly election was even less competitive, with 36% of seats going uncontested, and another 21% virtually uncontested.

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Election Reform Experts Gather in New Mexico

Posted by jesse shayne on September 25, 2017 at 2:29 PM

On September 9th, election reform experts from across New Mexico gathered in Las Cruces to discuss how New Mexico should reform its electoral system to increase competition and make elected officials more accountable to their constituents.

The event was organized by Abraham Sanchez, a board member of New Mexico Open Primaries who is employed by the Dona Ana County Clerk’s Bureau of Elections. Panelists included Dr. Christa Slaton of New Mexico State University, Dona Ana County Clerk Scott Krahling, New Mexico Open Primaries Founder Bob Perls, and New Mexico State Senator Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces.

Over 50 people attended the event, and enjoyed a lively hour-long Q&A with the panelists, who generally agreed on a number of reforms that are crucial to New Mexico, including: Open primaries, free and fair ballot access, independent redistricting, consolidation of local and county elections, same-day voter registration, and automatic voter registration.

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New Jersey Voters Not Satisfied With Closed Primaries

Posted by jesse shayne on July 17, 2017 at 3:20 PM

As a born and bred Jersey girl, it’s only natural that I’m stubborn about my politics. My friends and I all have ideas about candidates, issues, and New Jersey government. However, when we turned 18 and we could finally express our opinions through voting, we were met by pollsters who told us that we had to affiliate with a party in order to vote. I remember being caught off guard and enraged at the fact that I had to join a party I did not align with just so I could vote. I’m still enraged. But I’m not alone.

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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of the Voters

Posted by jesse shayne on June 01, 2017 at 11:51 AM

On Monday, May 15th, the Supreme Court upheld the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal's decision that open primaries do not infringe upon a political party’s freedom of association, and that the burden of proof is on the parties to demonstrate if they do. This effectively keeps the door open for open primaries in Hawaii and Montana, where they were being challenged, and will likely protect open primaries in many other states.

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Five Reasons We Need Open Primaries

Posted by jesse shayne on May 25, 2017 at 5:08 PM

26.3 million independent voters, including almost half of all millennial voters, were barred from voting in presidential primaries in 2016. Millions more registered Democrats and Republicans were prevented from voting for the candidate of their choice. The result? Recent polling shows 70% of all Americans now support open primaries.


Closed primaries are the most rampant form of voter suppression of the 21st century. Now, more than ever, we need our democracy to be open and fair -- representative of all Americans, not just party extremists. Here are five reasons why we need open primaries, right now:

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Faces of Open Primaries: Queens, NY

Posted by jesse shayne on April 27, 2017 at 10:11 AM

As an independent, I've become increasingly convinced that those of us who are most discouraged by our options in the voting booth ought most especially to vote, if we're to have any chance of interrupting the vicious cycle of the most polarized electorate putting the most polarized candidates in office.

In the 2016 election cycle, among a deeply flawed set of presidential candidates on both sides, I eventually settled on one I could vote for in reasonably good conscience: Ohio governor John Kasich. Living in Arizona at the time, where limited open primary laws do not extend to the presidential race, I considered registering Republican, weighing the ironic trade-off of a dishonest party affiliation for the ability to cast an honest vote, based not on the fear of victory for the "other side" but on who I actually thought would make a good president...

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Faces of Open Primaries: Lima, OH

Posted by jesse shayne on April 19, 2017 at 5:04 PM

Since we essentially only have a 2 (viable) party system, I feel my independent vote is worthless since I have to declare one or the other party in order to vote in the primaries. At least Ohio lets one change from primary to primary. I remember a college professor stating his belief that it was stupid not to vote 100% for a party. But the party lines keep changing until the label becomes meaningless. I'd rather look at all the information I can find about those who are running, and pick from what they purport to believe in or have actually done. I want to vote for those persons who appear to have values similar to mine and hope that person can help make changes in the party backing them.

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Faces of Open Primaries: New York, NY

Posted by jesse shayne on April 12, 2017 at 12:31 PM

I’ve voted in every election since I was eligible, including primaries. I’ve always been registered as an Independent, or I registered same-day to vote in primaries and then went back to being an Independent for the general election. I’ve lived in New York City since 2000, but haven’t participated in the primaries due to the state’s strict party affiliation requirement. I was all in for Bernie by fall of 2015, and was actually excited to register as a Democrat so that I could cast my vote in the April primary. In November, I still thought that I had plenty of time, based on my previous experiences voting in primaries in other states that were either open or had same-day registration. After dutifully submitting my forms, I received notice from the Democratic Machine that I was a registered Democrat for the fall and could vote in the primary starting in 2017. I angrily called the local Board of Elections and expressed my displeasure, and was rebuffed. Apparently, registration had to be completed 193 days prior to the primary—that’s more than 6 months!

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Open Primaries Leaders Gather at Independent Voting Conference

Posted by jesse shayne on April 12, 2017 at 11:22 AM

Last month, over 500 independent voter rights activists gathered in New York to attend the biennial Independent Voting Conference. Open Primaries leaders from 8 states attended the Conference to discuss the future of the movement and to learn a thing or two about organizing from another.

Never before had such a diverse range of Open Primaries activists gathered in one place.

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