Posted by Adriana Espinoza on July 16, 2015 at 6:32 PM
Philadelphia is Fed Up with it's Closed Primary System
In May of 2015, in response to a surge of articles and editorials expressing dissatisfaction with the closed primary system, the Open Primaries outreach team began calling voters in Philadelphia. We wanted to gain perspective on Independent and unaffiliated voters in the area, measure their satisfaction with the current primary system, and provide outreach about reform options.
Our survey started with a set of general questions about primaries to gauge the voter’s understanding of and thoughts about the current system. What we discovered was contrary to how the media characterizes independent and unaffiliated voters.
The voters we spoke to in Philadelphia were not apathetic and disengaged. By and large, these voters knew about the closed partisan system, and had been fed up with it for years. We spoke to many Philadelphia voters who were angry about being locked out of the first round of voting. In all, 73% said there are flaws in the current closed primary system.
In the second half of the poll, we explained how open and nonpartisan top two primary systems work. Each voter was then asked to choose which reform they would support.
Figure 1 shows more than half the respondents support nonpartisan top two primaries. Anecdotally, we learned that many voters didn’t know there were other ways to conduct elections. They had only known a system controlled by political parties. These voters were energized by the alternative of nonpartisan top two primaries to shake things up and join the movement for nonpartisan election reform.
The response to the last question on our poll was the most significant. An astounding 90% said a campaign to change the current primary system would be worthwhile (See Figure 2). These voters are demanding an equal voice in the political process.
In all, Open Primaries was met with overwhelming support in Philadelphia. By inviting them to join our movement, Open Primaries gives a voice to their frustration with the current political environment and the tools and support to build a solution.
It is only through this kind of grassroots organizing that we can take on the structural partisanship that plagues our electoral process. These Philadelphians are ready for reform, and they won’t stop until their voices are heard.