More than 1.2 million Pennsylvania voters are independent and all are shut out of important spring nomination contests. In many parts of the state, primary elections are decisive, with winners virtually guaranteed to win the November general election and enter public office. This means more than one out of every eight registered Pennsylvanian voters are barred from having a say in a critical part of the electoral process on offices from township council to the U.S. presidency.
Open Primaries PA, a diverse and growing coalition of groups committed to open and free elections has launched at https://www.openprimariespa.org/
The founding members of the Open Primaries PA -- Committee of Seventy, Common Cause PA, Commonwealth Commonsense, Independent Pennsylvanians and Philly Set Go -- established this new coalition on the principles of:
- Fairness in representation: More than one million Pennsylvanians are shut out of primary elections that often determine who represents them.
- Accountability in elections: Public officials should be accountable to the electorate at large, not party bases.
- No taxation without representation: Primary elections are funded with tax dollars from every Pennsylvanian regardless of whether they can participate.
The coalition supported Senate Bill 300, introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnatti., which would allow an unaffiliated voter to choose a primary -- Democratic or Republican -- in which they could vote for candidates.
The Pennsylvania State Senate passed SB 300 on a 42-8 vote but was ultimately left to languish in the House’s State Government Committee. Open Primaries PA remains committed to enfranchising all Pennsylvanians and is calling on lawmakers to revisit SB 300 and address the voter suppression currently happening in the state.
Nearly 40% of Maine voters are independent and cannot participate in taxpayer-funded primaries. Most of Maine’s legislative races are not competitive in the general election because the districts heavily favor either the Republican or the Democratic nominees. That means that 70% of general election “winners” were effectively chosen in the state’s June primary election without the participation of independent voters. Which is why 73% of Maine voters support open primaries.
Open Primaries Maine, a grassroots, non-partisan coalition is standing with the people of Maine who are demanding the right to vote for every registered voter and is organizing Mainers in support.
They supported legislation to open the primaries to all voters, LD 211, which was introduced by Rep. Kent Ackley. The Maine House of Representatives held a public hearing to hear testimony from voters on LD 211. Over 40 local activists packed the hearing.
The legislation fell just two votes short of passage in the Maine Senate in the current session. This was the first semi-open primaries bill to receive a floor vote in the Maine Senate and it received bipartisan support, with 4 Republicans and 12 Democrats voting in support, including Senate President Troy Jackson. Activists across the state condemned the legislature’s inaction. Former Independent Maine State Senator, Jill Goldthwait, penned a letter to the editor sharing her frustration.
In early 2021, LD 231 “An Act to Establish Open Primaries” was introduced in Maine and is currently being co-sponsored by Rep. Sophie Warren, Rep. Allison Hepler, Rep. Jeff Evangelos, Rep. David McCrea, Rep. Walter Riseman & Senators Matt Pouliot & Chloe Maxmin.
Open Primaries Maine is currently building a campaign in support of LD 231.
A bill to open Nevada’s primaries to all voters has been introduced. SB 121 would enfranchise over half a million independent voters (nearly ⅓ of ALL voters in the state!)
The bill would eliminate the state’s closed, partisan primary and replace it with a top two open primary that would allow all voters to vote for every candidate on the ballot, regardless of their party affiliation. Senator Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) a long-time open primaries proponent & lead sponsor of the bill declared:
"In reality, closed primaries are the biggest voter suppression mechanism in this state and if we continue down this process, more and more people will become disenfranchised and become disillusioned with our electoral process. The primaries decide a vast majority of races who represent them in government, and frankly, voters shouldn't have to join some private club to have a voice in their government and the right to vote. This opens up our primaries to all voters and puts the power back in the hands of the people rather than the parties.”