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The latest from the movement

Making Ourselves Heard at NYC Votes

Posted by Jesse Shayne on December 09, 2016 at 9:53 AM

Tuesday night, the Open Primaries movement made itself heard loud and clear at a NYC Votes public hearing on the dysfunction of New York’s arcane electoral system. Following an election season with three different primaries, filled with long lines, purged voter files, and overall voter dissatisfaction -- not to mention 3.2 million New Yorkers who couldn’t even vote -- the NYC Campaign Finance Board decided to give voters a public platform to express themselves.

The frustration of voters was palpable from the get-go. Complaints were lodged in a number of directions, from the unfairness of the Electoral College to incompetent poll workers.

Early on, 20-year-old Open Primaries Committee Member Kenneth Shelton got an opportunity to talk about empowering youth voters and his first experience voting in a presidential election. Kenneth spoke in-depth about conversations he’s held with his Millennial peers -- many of whom feel disaffected and marginalized by our political system. It’s no secret, of course, that despite being one of the biggest voting blocs in our country, Millennials don’t have as much political bargaining power as one might expect; Kenneth made that point very clear. His eloquent testimony was received a raucous round of applause.

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Our Day in Court

Posted by Jesse Shayne on December 07, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Yesterday afternoon, lawyer and activist Mark Moody delivered his legal argument on the unconstitutionality of New York’s closed primary system. Moody also argued that New York’s change of party affiliation deadline -- the earliest in the country -- places an unfair burden on voters.

Two lawyers -- one from the Board of Elections and another from Attorney General Schneiderman’s office -- stood in defense of an electoral system that prohibits 3.2 million voters from participating in the most impactful round of voting.

The courtroom was overflowing with dozens of supporters of open primaries and independent voter rights; the security guards shepherded extra seats from the backroom throughout the trial; the judge made an exception and let spectators sit in the jury box after admitting that he had never seen so many people in his courtroom; and there were still twenty more activists standing in the corner.

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An Intern’s Take: Harvard Business Review Comes Out in Favor of Top-Two Primaries

Posted by Jesse Shayne on December 06, 2016 at 1:20 PM

Now more than ever, Americans lack confidence in politics. Don’t believe me? In 2016, 80% of Americans don’t trust the government to do the right thing. Instead, Americans are increasingly disillusioned with a government that is more interested in playing politics than in creating real reforms for the American people.

Americans aren’t alone in their frustration with federal gridlock and hyper-partisanship. The Harvard Business School (HBS) recently released a study that identifies political dysfunction as the, “single most important challenge to U.S economic progress.” That’s right: the political climate is so bad that it’s even hurting U.S. business.

This link between a dysfunctional political system and poor economic performance is incredibly important. It sometimes seems like the government is far removed from our daily lives, but this report shows how political dysfunction can hurt everyday Americans on at least one level. Our economy suffers when our government is dysfunctional, and economic stagnation hurts us all.

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Jessie Fields' Address to Citizen's Union

Posted by Jesse Shayne on November 21, 2016 at 5:10 PM

Good afternoon. Thank you to the Citizens Union for organizing today’s event.

Looking at the state of our political process and its relationship to the voters is so timely!

I serve on the Board of Directors of Open Primaries. I want to thank John Opdyke, President and founder of Open Primaries, Jeremy Gruber from Open Primaries, and Cathy Stewart of for their work and for being here today.

I am a medical doctor, a community organizer and a political activist, and throughout my years of activism it has been deeply important to me to work to bridge the ongoing racial, social and ideological divides in our society.

A towering leader who brought together a movement that inspired Americans of different races and walks of life was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1965, at the end of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Dr. King spoke about the centrality of the right to vote. He said that the denial of the right to vote is at the very origins of “the root cause of racial segregation in the south.” Then he went on to discuss the populist movement in the post Civil War period, how poor black and white farmers were brought together. But, Dr. King explained, this alliance was destroyed by white Southern Bourbon elites, Jim Crow laws and violent intimidation.

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Citizen's Union Lecture

Posted by Jesse Shayne on November 10, 2016 at 3:40 PM

Join us to talk about political reform in New York

This election season may be over, but the fight for democratic elections in New York is just beginning. Please join us on November 18, 2016 at a half-day symposium, The Only Way Is Up: A Citywide Discussion to Boost Voter Turnout in New York. Open Primaries has joined with Citizens Union to co-sponsor this important free event, which will bring together policy makers, advocates, organizers, educators, and thought leaders to begin to discuss how we empower New Yorkers to take back our electoral politics in New York.

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Faces of Open Primaries: Nancy Hanks -- New York, NY

Posted by Jesse Shayne on November 10, 2016 at 1:36 PM

"While Congress, and most of our elected officials at every level—who are overwhelmingly elected in party-controlled primary elections, many of which exclude independents—continue their destructive undemocratic course, We the People are demanding democracy. I couldn’t be prouder of the American people and important organizations like Open Primaries who are speaking out and working for a more fully democratic electoral process. Congrats to all the grassroots leaders throughout the country who are leading the democracy movement. Keep on keepin’ on!"

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The Voter Rebellion Begins in South Dakota

Posted by Jesse Shayne on September 14, 2016 at 12:43 PM

One of the most important political campaigns in 2016 isn’t in support of a candidate, but of an idea -- one that is central to the Open Primaries movement: That all voters should be able to vote for who they want.

Amendment V in South Dakota offers voters a rare opportunity to enact public, nonpartisan primaries -- which would give every voter a voice and allow them to elect public servants instead of party servants. So far, former Democratic Senators Tim Johnson and Tim Daschle, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (who helped establish nonpartisan primaries in California), the AARP and League of Women Voters have all endorsed it. And the New York Times cited Vote Yes on V as one of the most important ballot measures of this election.

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An Intern's Take: Tracking Down the Cost of Primaries

Posted by Jesse Shayne on August 11, 2016 at 2:03 PM

As an Intern with Open Primaries, I was asked to conduct research on how much closed presidential primaries cost taxpayers. This is important to know because closed primaries are paid for by all state-taxpayers, including independent voters who cannot participate in closed primary elections, yet still foot the bill for them.

Americans are fairly used to government bureaucracy and red tape making it difficult to fact-find and track down accurate information. State officials are very hesitant to make it known just how much things actually cost, particularly when it comes to taxes.

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Faces of Open Primaries: New York, NY

Posted by Jesse Shayne on August 10, 2016 at 2:18 PM

"Not too far from New York City is Indian Point Lake. It’s been contaminated by nuclear waste and none of my local officials seem to have any sense of urgency to resolve this situation."

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Faces of Open Primaries: Indianapolis, IN

Posted by Jesse Shayne on August 02, 2016 at 4:13 PM

"Indiana has open primaries and I feel pretty well represented in my state. The officials generally listen to me on all the issues I care about. Nationally, our election system needs to be revamped. We need automatic registration at age 18, paid holidays for voting days, and possibly a social media tracker to have accurate real time polling. We also need to do away with closed primaries. It is a form of voter suppression and I will not support any party or elected official that supports closed primaries."

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