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In swipe at Trump, Flake exposes America's broken political system

Posted by jesse shayne on October 31, 2017 at 1:16 PM

This article was written by Open Primaries Senior Director of National Outreach Jason Olson

Jeff Flake, whether you love him, hate him, or have never heard of him, just pointed out one of the biggest reasons why government and politics has become so dysfunctional: a party primary system that forces Americans to divide against each other. Flake, Arizona’s junior senator, recently announced that he will not be seeking reelection in 2018. Many pundits have predictably leaped into a frenzied discussion of who is up, who is down, and all of the usual “politics as reality television show” that we’ve come to expect from them.

But if you listen closely to what Senator Flake is saying, you realize that his decision is not just a reflection of his dislike of President Trump. “Here’s the bottom line. The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I’m not willing to take, and that I can’t in good conscience take,” Flake told the Arizona Republic in a telephone interview. “It would require me to believe in positions I don’t hold on such issues as trade and immigration and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone.”

Flake feels he cannot win a Republican Primary without appealing to the small segment of party die-hards that turn out to vote in Arizona’s partisan primary system. Despite the media portrayal of a vigorous competition between Democratic and Republican candidates in races across the country, the Beltway crowd’s best kept secret is that primary elections, not November general elections, determine most electoral contests.

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Florida voters demand open primaries

Posted by jesse shayne on October 24, 2017 at 1:57 PM

The 2016 primary elections in Florida were a watershed moment for our state. Despite spending some $13 million of their hard earned tax dollars to fund primaries, 3.4 million independent voters were shut out of one of the most important elections in a generation. Millions more voters of all stripes were justifiably appalled by their exclusion.

No matter one’s politics, the right to vote is sacred, and Florida is now one of only nine states with a completely closed primary system that requires participating voters be registered members of a political party in order to vote. Florida’s voters are increasingly registering without a party affiliation, so our election system has become unsustainable.

Floridians recognize how important primary elections have become. Due to gerrymandering and the creation of safe districts for the major parties, 90 percent of all races are determined by primary elections.

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Florida's closed primaries confuse voters

Posted by jesse shayne on October 06, 2017 at 10:45 AM

This article was written by Lloyd Dunkelberger for the Sun-Sentinel

As Florida's population grows and more residents shun traditional party affiliations, voters are befuddled, if not angry, about the state's closed-primary system, including the use of write-in candidates, three local elections supervisors testified Wednesday.

“When it comes to the primary election, our voters are confused,” Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes told the state Constitution Revision Commission's Ethics and Elections Committee.

Many new voters move to Florida from other states with more open voting systems as opposed to Florida's closed primaries, which are restricted to voters who are registered with parties. Florida is one of nine states using a closed-primary system.

“We have people coming from all over the country, and they bring with them the experiences that they have had and what they know,” Snipes said. “It's difficult for them to understand.”

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Colorado Republicans vote to keep 2018 primaries open to unaffiliated voters

Posted by jesse shayne on September 25, 2017 at 3:03 PM

This article was written by Danika Worthington for The Denver Post

A move to close the 2018 Republican primaries to unaffiliated voters was stopped Saturday after a majority of the party leaders voted against the proposal during a Central Committee Meeting.


Voters approved Proposition 108 in 2016, overhauling how major-party candidates are selected in the Colorado and allowing the state’s 1.4 million unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in either the Republican or Democratic primaries.


But a caveat allowed political parties to opt out by a 75 percent vote of its entire central committee. The party did not have enough members present to reach that percentage, making the move dead before the votes had been cast, Colorado Republican Party spokesman Daniel Cole said.


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We Can’t Wait Anymore; We Need Open Primaries Now

Posted by jesse shayne on September 25, 2017 at 2:36 PM

This article was written by Becky Trudeau for IVN

Were you unhappy with your choice of candidates in the 2016 election cycle? Do you want to see a broader slate of candidates that are passionate about working to solve the big issues that really affect you and your family in 2018 and beyond? Candidates that aren’t controlled by special interest groups and big money, corporate donors? Then you need to support open primaries in Florida.

Even though primaries are financed by all taxpayers, they are 100% controlled by the Democratic and Republican Parties. Consequently, the message to voters is also controlled by the two parties.

Since all people tend to form their opinions through the lens of partially conceived notions based on a variety of factors with a community of like believers (friends, family, associates, media), we miss out on the benefit of opposing views. It’s extremely easy in this age of information to shut out views that make us uncomfortable, and it is only human nature.

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In California, open primaries took the 'politics' out of politics

Posted by jesse shayne on September 19, 2017 at 11:45 AM

Last month, the California legislature did something unheard of — by Washington, D.C., standards. They came together across party lines to amend and extend sweeping cap and trade emissions legislation. Business, agriculture, labor and environmentalists all had a seat at the table.

By 2030, California’s population is expected to grow by five million people, yet our greenhouse gas emissions will shrink to 40 percent below 1990 levels. In this era of cynicism and gridlock, how is this possible?

The answer may surprise you. It’s not because California is a “blue” state. If that were the reason, New York would be leading the country in legislative innovation, not state house scandals and indictments. Seven years ago, Californians overhauled the political system so that voters have more choices and politicians are incentivized to cooperate and innovate, not grandstand and polemicize.

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How to fix US politics? Maybe start by seeing it as an ‘industrial complex.’

Posted by jesse shayne on September 18, 2017 at 1:21 PM

This article was written by Laurent Belsie for the Christian Science Monitor

Search for Solutions: America’s political dysfunction stems from a duopoly structure that’s been amplified in recent decades, a new report argues. Some states may already be pointing toward solutions that better serve the public interest.

In 2015, shortly after selling her family’s food-products business, CEO Katherine Gehl had an epiphany: What if you analyzed the US political system as an industry? Suddenly, new answers appeared for questions, such as: Why are politics so partisan? Why can’t Washington get things done? Ms. Gehl teamed up with Harvard business professor Michael Porter, a consultant for her family business, to investigate the industry of politics. On Sept. 13, they released a report, “Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America.” Here are edited excerpts of their conversation with Monitor business writer Laurent Belsie.

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Harvard Business School’s Latest Case Study Looks at American Politics and Finds a Rigged System

Posted by jesse shayne on September 18, 2017 at 10:55 AM

This article was written by Jeffrey Sparshott for the Wall Street Journal

The U.S. political system isn’t broken. It’s working exactly the way the two main parties designed it.

That’s the conclusion of a new Harvard Business School study. Authors Katherine Gehl, former president and CEO of Gehl Foods, and Michael Porter, a professor at the school, apply business theory to the U.S. political system and find an industry that works for Democratic and Republican organizations, big donors, pollsters, consultants, partisan think tanks, the media and lobbyists, but ignores most American citizens.

“By nearly every measure, the industry of politics, itself, is thriving,” Ms. Gehl and Mr. Porter said in the report. “There’s just one problem. The people whom the politics industry is supposed to serve have never been more dissatisfied.”

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How Can Citizens Redress their Grievances of an Unfair Election Process?

Posted by jesse shayne on September 14, 2017 at 10:08 AM

This article was written by Tiani X. Coleman and Harry Kresky for the Huffington Post

According to Judge William J. Zloch, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, they can’t.

On August 25, 2017, Judge Zloch dismissed a significant lawsuit brought by activists fighting a grave injustice in the electoral system, the unfairness of the Democratic primary. This case, known as the “DNC lawsuit” was brought by supporters of Bernie Sanders who felt they had a cause of action against the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) and its then Chairwoman Deborah Wasserman Shultz, for fraud and misrepresentation, for tilting the playing field against Bernie Sanders and in favor of Hillary Clinton, who won the nomination but then went on to lose the presidency to Donald Trump. The implications of Zloch’s dismissal are a big deal for the public at large, whether one is a Bernie fan or not. The issue is whether our country really stands for the proposition that all citizens should have equal voting rights.

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It is time for New Mexico elections to change

Posted by jesse shayne on September 08, 2017 at 10:57 AM

This article was written by Abraham Sanchez for New Mexico Politics

The height of political fragility will be on display again in June of 2018. Major political parties will parade around our state eagerly awaiting the outcome of their primary elections. While almost a quarter of the voters who bear the cost of this election are not allowed to vote in it, political parties will suggest this effectively decides who our candidates should be in the general election.

Again we’ve seen our New Mexico Legislature miss vital opportunities to change the way we conduct elections in our state. In this year’s session, important measures to remedy our broken elections were ignored and dismissed.

Opening closed primary elections to all New Mexico voters was rejected. Then, legislation to increase the amount of time people have to register to vote was discarded. We saw nothing come of attempts to change our legislative re-districting process. We have failed to take a serious look at the unreasonable requirements for independent and minor party candidates to run for office.

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