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For the people, not for the parties: Open primaries empower African-Americans

Posted by Jason Olson on February 15, 2018 at 10:55 AM

There is immense pressure on black voters to protect the Democratic Party. Yet the abuses of power we are seeing today with gerrymandering and closed primaries are a two-party affair. To be clear, recent Republican redistricting plans in North Carolina and Pennsylvania are discriminatory. But let us not forget, they are a product of a system both parties created and defend.

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Democrats must court independent voters

Posted by jesse shayne on January 09, 2018 at 4:06 PM

The victory by Doug Jones in Alabama -- a state that hadn’t elected a Democrat in 25 years -- was an earthquake.

Many political pundits are already predicting a wave of electoral victories for Democrats in 2018. But, if the party doesn’t take seriously the lessons of his election, those predictions are likely to fall short.

NBA legend Charles Barkley, a native Alabamian who campaigned across the state for Jones, said, “This is a wake-up call for Democrats to do better for black people and poor white people.”

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It’s time to once again give all Idahoans a voice in elections

Posted by jesse shayne on January 09, 2018 at 4:02 PM

An Oct. 12 article in the Idaho Statesman discussed former Idaho Republican lawmaker Kathy Skippen’s movement to get Democrats to register as Republicans so they can participate in the “Closed Idaho Primary.” This is not the answer to a broken primary system of limiting voter participation, and is a strategy to further eliminate loyal opposition. We need to fix the problem the right way.

First let me tell you that I am a former Republican and active party member in Idaho. I was transferred to another state in 2006. When I returned in 2011 I became aware that politics in Idaho had changed. The biggest change was that because I had decided not to affiliate myself with any political party, I would be losing important voting rights.

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Open Florida’s primaries to independent voters

Posted by jesse shayne on December 21, 2017 at 2:36 PM

In a closed primary election, only voters registered with an affiliated party are allowed to participate. Since the 2016 presidential election, closed and semi-closed presidential primaries have received scrutiny over the undemocratic rules that prevent voters from choosing the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

In the 2016 election, Florida was among nine states that held completely closed primaries. Several other states have semi-closed primaries or other restrictions in place. Laws differ state by state whether the primaries are closed or if the decision to open or close them is granted to the state parties.

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Impact of independents in Alabama shows value of open primaries

Posted by jesse shayne on December 15, 2017 at 1:55 PM

Doug Jones’s upset victory in Alabama — a state that President Trump won by nearly a 30 point margin only a year ago — was fueled by a perfect storm of voter turnout. And while high participation among African-American voters surely played a significant role in securing Jones the win, a surge of younger and independent voters — who lined up to oppose Roy Moore — was also key to the victory.

The Washington Post reported that 60 percent of voters ages 18-29 voted for Jones, while CNN’s exit polls found 66 percent of voters between the ages of 30 and 39 lent him their support.

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Californians like top-two primary system on ballots

Posted by jesse shayne on December 13, 2017 at 10:48 AM

Some people may think Californians don’t know what they’re doing when they vote on ballot initiatives, but a new poll suggests that voters were anything but confused when they approved the top-two primary.

The Public Policy Institute of California released a statewide survey last week revealing that 60 percent of likely voters think it’s “mostly a good thing” that they have the option to vote for any candidate, regardless of party, in primary elections for legislative offices.

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The future of the Democratic Party is being decided behind closed doors

Posted by jesse shayne on December 04, 2017 at 1:33 PM

One of the deepest divisions within the Democratic Party is playing out right now behind closed doors. The divide is not over candidates or policies but over whether the party is prepared to make its own nominating process more democratic.

While the public face of the party is united against the president and focused on winning races in 2018, the fractures laid bare during the 2016 election cycle are far from healed. Millions of Democrats — and Americans in general — are still reeling over a 2016 presidential election season that left so many of us feeling that the system is rigged and no longer representative of the people. Donna Brazile's recent revelations of preferential treatment by the Democratic National Committee has only added fuel to the fire.

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Open the primaries, former Bar president says

Posted by jesse shayne on November 15, 2017 at 4:11 PM

This article was written by Danny McCauliffe for Florida Politics

With Constitution Revision Commissioner William “Bill” Schifino Jr.’s recent proposal to open Florida’s primaries, a nationwide movement has some steam in the Sunshine State.

Specifically, the change proposed by Schifino—a Tampa attorney and 2016-2017 president of The Florida Bar—would allow independent voters to cast ballots in primary elections.

Florida’s constitution currently provides for closed primaries: Elections in which votes for primary candidates can only be cast by voters within their respective parties, which excludes the more than 3.4 million registered “no party affiliated” (NPA) voters in Florida.

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How partisan primaries weaken the political center

Posted by jesse shayne on November 15, 2017 at 4:03 PM

This article was written by Brian Dickerson for the Detroit Free Press

Last week brought mixed tidings for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer.

The good news is that a MIRS/Target Insyght pollreleased last week shows her beating six prospective rivals (including three who have not entered the race for governor) among Democrats most likely to participate in next August's party primary.

The bad news is that a second Target Insyght survey suggests that one of those undeclared candidates, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, would do considerably better in a general election match-up with state Attorney General Bill Schuette, the current frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

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Open Primaries and Overcoming the Racial Divide the Parties Prop Up

Posted by jesse shayne on November 02, 2017 at 11:47 AM

This article was written by OP board member Jessie Fields for the Gotham Gazette

Today the dominance of the two major parties has frozen the country’s political development along a racial divide: the Republican Party uses law and order, tax cuts and anti-immigrant rhetoric to capture white voters, and the Democratic Party depends on high black voter turnout to win elections, while failing to address the ongoing inequality between people of color and white people. Pollster Cornell Belcher has found that 63% of black people feel taken for granted by the Democratic Party. The current highly partisan political environment is producing both government dysfunction and a general sense of dread that the county is moving backward.

The American people have been so manipulated and divided by politicians and our political process so over-determined by two-party control that for ordinary people of good will to meaningfully come together requires a wholesale break from politics as usual. We should not confuse multiracial solidarity—when people of different races come together to fight for a common goal—with the dynamic of political party constituency groups such as African-American, Latino, LGBT people, and women making demands within the Democratic Party and fighting each other for the attention and resources of the party and its elected officials.

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