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AG Schneiderman: New York's Laws Amount to 'Legal Voter Suppression'

Posted by jesse shayne on December 07, 2016 at 10:20 AM

This article was written by Karen DeWitt and Brigid Bergin for WNYC

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has released a package of bills aimed at improving what he says are “arcane” and “ridiculous” laws that bar many potential voters from the ballot box.

Schneiderman began an inquiry after his office received a record 1,500 complaints about lack of voter access during the April presidential primary. His office is also conducting a separate, ongoing investigation into a massive voter purge in Brooklyn, first uncovered by WNYC last spring.

“In New York we have what amounts to legal voter suppression,” Schneiderman said Tuesday at an announcement on the second floor of the state Capitol in Albany.

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Petition for open primary system shot down by court

Posted by jesse shayne on December 07, 2016 at 10:10 AM

This article was written by Julia Marsh for the New York Post

A Manhattan judge Tuesday tossed a lawsuit challenging the state’s closed primary system, disappointing a crowd of around 50 mostly Bernie Sanders supporters who’d gathered to hear legal arguments.

“This isn’t going to make me very popular in this room but the petition is hereby denied,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled from the bench.

Trial attorney Mark Moody had sued the state and city Board of Elections shortly after April’s primary elections, saying that million of New Yorkers– including President-elect Donald Trump’s own kids– were barred from voting in the presidential primary because they didn’t change their party affiliation before the October 2015 deadline.

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My Voice: Heed ‘pressure’ to improve state politics

Posted by jesse shayne on December 02, 2016 at 12:33 PM

This article was written by Joe Kirby for the Argus Leader

On Nov. 8, South Dakota voters faced 10 ballot measures. They said “yes” on four of them. I hoped they might also approve Amendment T, independent redistricting, and Amendment V, non-partisan open primaries. Those two promised improvements in our broken system for selecting our representatives.

Nevertheless, I think public awareness has increased on some of the fundamental problems with our election system in S.D. I am interested to see what our legislative leaders might do in the upcoming legislative session with that information. If nothing changes, I suspect citizens may decide they want a second look at improving state government themselves in 2018.

I was fortunate to work on Amendment V with a group of fellow Republicans, along with Democrats and independents, all of whom were motivated to try to improve the fairness of our elections and the quality of our government. I hope to continue to work with them. Many of us, and many in the public learned some important lessons about our state government in the process.

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Bernie beckoned to state hearing

Posted by jesse shayne on November 29, 2016 at 2:48 PM

This is an excerpt from Crain's Morning Insider on November 28th

Open Primaries, a nonprofit seeking electoral reform, sent a petition last week signed by more than 3,400 voters to Sen. Bernie Sanders requesting he attend a Dec. 6 state Supreme Court hearing challenging the legality of New York's primary system. The group wants candidates and voters to be able to participate in all state elections regardless of party affiliation. Such a system exists in California, where the top two vote-getters in primary elections advance to the general election.

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Open-primary advocates want Sanders’ support

Posted by jesse shayne on November 28, 2016 at 3:15 PM

This article was written by Chris McKenna for

Activists seeking to overturn rules limiting participation in New York’s primaries to registered party members are calling on perhaps the country’s most recognizable independent to stand with them in court in Manhattan next month.

The non-profit Open Primaries organization announced this week it had sent Bernie Sanders a letter signed online by more than 3,400 voters, urging him to attend a hearing in state Supreme Court on Dec. 6 for a case challenging the legality of New York’s closed primaries. New York City lawyer Mark Moody filed the lawsuit in April after being unable to vote in New York’s Democratic presidential primary. Moody used to be an unaffiliated voter and registered as a Democrat in March, but New York’s arcane election laws required voters to switch parties by the previous Oct. 9 in order to vote in that party’s 2016 primaries.

Moody’s complaint noted with irony that Donald Trump’s children, Ivanka and Eric, were unable to vote for their father in the April 19 Republican primary for the same reason. His lawsuit, pending before Justice Arthur Engoron, argues that New York’s closed primaries disenfranchise voters and should end.

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Election rejection: independent voters don’t feel respected, but can’t be ignored

Posted by jesse shayne on November 21, 2016 at 12:54 PM

This article was written by Cronkite News for the Arizona Capital Times

Independent voters, who get shut out of primary elections and are ignored by Republicans and Democrats, proved in the 2016 election that squandering their voices is politically dangerous, according to some political observers.

Public officials, pollsters and university professors said in panels earlier this week that too many miscalculated the power of the independent voter – those unaffiliated with either of the two major parties – in predicting Donald Trump would become the nation’s next president. Daniel Ortega of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, speaking at a post-election discussion organized by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said Democratic and Republican leaders shut out independent voters.

“‘Nobody calls me. Nobody comes to my door. Nobody sends me materials,’” Ortega said he’s often told. “A larger number of voters are left out there with no communication.” Since independents in Arizona aren’t allowed to vote in closed primaries, candidates of major parties miss out on hearing from a large voter demographic, he said at Wednesday’s panel. “They get nothing because they can’t vote in the primaries,” Ortega said, adding it rigs the system against unaffiliated voters.

The idea that the voting process is “rigged” could be true, according to several panelists at the session. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan said the voting process is inconvenient to those who aren’t committed to a party. She says she is an advocate for fair access to the ballot.

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Editorial: 2016 elections prove NM should open its primaries

Posted by jesse shayne on November 21, 2016 at 10:55 AM

This article was published by the Albuquerque Journal and represents the views of its editorial board

The 2016 election season delivered some surprises that had little to do with President-elect Donald Trump.

A record number of New Mexicans – over 326,000 – voted in the primary elections. Libertarian presidential candidate/former Gov. Gary Johnson took 9.3 percent of the general election vote in New Mexico (and 6.3 percent in his native North Dakota), crossing the 5-percent threshold to get his Libertarian Party major-party recognition and public funding for elections in those states.

But it was no surprise that a large number of New Mexico’s races were decided long before the state’s June primaries were held. Still more were decided in those primary elections and long before a general election ballot was cast.

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How Changes to the Primary Process Can Improve Democratic Electoral Outcomes

Posted by jesse shayne on November 17, 2016 at 10:05 AM

This article was written by James Pagano for the Kennedy School Review

As the dust settles on the 2016 Presidential Election, the Democratic Party will begin a process of deep self-reflection. If the past week is any indication, the party will analyze what happened in 2016 with a specific focus on improving its future electoral prospects among rural white working-class voters. The shocking upset loss of Hillary Clinton warrants this type of policy-focused self-reflection; however, the Democratic Party must also better understand how and why it nominated the second most unpopular candidate in modern U.S. history, only to have her lose to the most unpopular candidate in modern U.S. history.

While the focus on ways to make the party more appealing are important, Democrats should also closely review the role of the presidential primary. To improve their future presidential prospects, Democrats should consider improving the competitiveness of their primaries through the universal adoption of open primaries and the elimination or curtailment of superdelegates (the party officials that get additional votes and added influence over candidate selection). A more transparent, open, and competitive process will help produce better-prepared and vetted candidates, and more engaged voters.

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What a Primary Voting System Means for Colorado Politics

Posted by jesse shayne on November 15, 2016 at 3:11 PM

This article was written by Matt Johnson for 5280 Magazine

Seven months ago, those who wanted to have their voices heard in selecting a Democratic nominee for president had to meet two key requirements—be registered Democrats, and be willing to vote in the (crowded) group setting of a caucus. The state’s Republicans, on the other hand, were out of luck entirely. Their candidate preference was decided by the Colorado GOP, which opted out of a traditional caucus and claimed it helped them make a better decision later in the process.

Fast forward to 2020, and all of this will be different. With the passing of Propositions 107 and 108 on Election Day, Colorado will now hold presidential primary elections in 2020 for both Democrats and Republicans—and unaffiliated voters can choose to cast a vote in one party’s primary. Colorado’s voting process for county, state, and federal offices other than the presidency will also transition to a primary system.

The approval of the two ballot measures means that Colorado’s high population of unaffiliated voters—who represent a whopping one-third of all registered voters in the state—will have a greater role in Colorado’s nominee selections. Financially, the new statutes will increase state spending by $160,000 over the next two years and local government spending by up to $750,000 every two years.

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Colorado Opens Primary Elections to 1.3 Million Independent Voters

Posted by jesse shayne on November 15, 2016 at 12:30 PM

This article was written by Kristen Henderson for IVN

San Diego, CALIF. – As the haze from the presidential election dissipates, many Americans are reflecting on the electoral process itself. And for the first time in a long time, the nation seems to have reached an agreement: flaws in the system must be addressed.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reports that, despite a typically divided electorate, “there are few partisan differences in the public’s lack of faith in the political parties, the nominating process, and the branches of government.”

Primary reform has been a hotly deliberated topic since early 2016, when millions of independent voters (half of which are millennials) simply weren’t allowed to participate in the presidential primaries. Similarly, registered Democrats and Republicans were unable to vote for a preferred candidate outside their respective parties.

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