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Westly: California’s top-two primary is working

Posted by jesse shayne on November 10, 2016 at 10:25 AM

This article was written by Steve Westly for the San Jose Mercury News

This year’s Senate race between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez – two Democrats – has raised some eyebrows about our state’s top-two primary system. Some have questioned the prudence of pitting two Democrats against each other in November.

How quickly the critics forget.

When Californians came together to fix our broken election system in 2010, our politics were a mess. Pew Charitable Trust gave California the lowest grade in the nation for performance, and the National Journal rated us among the most dysfunctional state governments. We proved them both right by breaking the record in 2010 for consecutive days without a state budget. No wonder our legislature had a 14 percent approval rating.

Californians voted to overhaul our system in 2010 because we wanted the same innovation in our government that has made our state’s private sector the envy of the world. Enacting top-two open primaries and nonpartisan redistricting has been a success. Voter turnout is up. Partisan warfare is down. We are no longer a national symbol of political failure.

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Election 2016: Colorado voters embrace open primary elections

Posted by jesse shayne on November 09, 2016 at 3:23 PM

This article was written by Ed Sealover for the Denver Business Journal

From now on, Colorado will choose its major-party presidential candidates in primary elections, and all party primaries will be open to unaffiliated voters as well as party members.

At 10 p.m. MT, Proposition 107 — which revives the presidential primary in Colorado — was winning by nearly a 2-1 margin. The primary will replace the caucus system of picking candidate for the White House, under which only a limited number of Coloradans in both major parties chose to participate.

And the "yes" vote on Proposition 108 — which opens primaries for all elected offices to unaffiliated voters, who now make up the largest voting bloc in the state — was narrowly ahead, but 9News declared it a winner at about 10 p.m.

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With Independents on the Rise, Colorado Questions Their Role in Elections

Posted by jesse shayne on November 07, 2016 at 1:39 PM

This article was written by Alan Greenblatt for Governing Magazine

Around the country, an increasing number of voters are registering as independents. Should they still have a say in who party nominees should be?

That question is being debated now in Colorado. A pair of measures on Tuesday's ballot would alter the state's primary elections, allowing unaffiliated voters -- who now outnumber Democrats and Republicans in the state -- to participate.

"If taxpaying citizens are going to pay for the cost of elections, they should have a say in them as well," said Jessie Koerner, spokeswoman for Let Colorado Vote, the group backing the measures.

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The final push for Amendment V

Posted by jesse shayne on November 07, 2016 at 12:28 PM

This article was written by Carlos Gonzalez for KSFY ABC

Proponents for Amendment 'V' hit the streets of Sioux Falls Saturday looking to inform and gain supporters before election day.

Amendment 'V' would establish a single open primary for voters of all parties.

'First of all, it'll level the playing field. Independents will now be an equal part of the process and number two, I think you'll see more Independents running for office," said Chairman of Yes on 'V', Rick Knobe.

John Timmer served on the South Dakota State Legislature for 12 years- he says after having first hand experience in the states political system- he thinks Amendment 'V' is good for the future of South Dakota.

"I saw what a problem it was with parties trying to control legislation and legislature and I thought there's a better way to give people elected than through party system." said Timmer.

But opponents say this measure is being pushed by out of state donors - and don't believe it would benefit the state.

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Proposition 106, 107, 108 Have Potential to Reshape Colorado Politics

Posted by jesse shayne on November 07, 2016 at 10:36 AM

This article was published by The Catalyst

One of the many issues on the ballot in the state of Colorado is Proposition 107 and 108 which pertain to the choosing of a presidential candidate. For decades, Colorado has chosen its Republican and Democratic candidates through a caucus system. Proposition 107 is giving Coloradans the option to switch to a state-run primary. Primary voting is done with ballots much like the voting system for the general election. A caucus, on the other hand, is more fluid. Representatives of the campaigns are at the caucus to educate voters about the candidates’ platforms. Caucus voting then occurs after the information sessions. Voters raise their hands and the votes are tallied or they split into groups based on their vote.

Proposition 108, which also affects 107, would open the primary to unaffiliated voters. This is important for independents as they make up about one-third of Colorado’s voting population. While switching to a primary will cost the state government more money, there are several reasons why this proposition landed on the ballot. In March, the Democratic caucuses were so overcrowded that many citizens were unable to vote due to the lack of infrastructure. The Republican party canceled their caucus. With a primary system, voting would be more efficient and less exclusive.

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Debriefing Democracy: Nonpartisan Movements In the Spotlight

Posted by jesse shayne on November 02, 2016 at 6:23 PM

This is an excerpt from an article that was published by the Independent Voter Network

Open Primaries is supporting the Vote Yes on V campaign for top-two primaries in South Dakota and has helped organize a diverse coalition of Republicans, Democrats and Independents from across the state that are supporting the measure. Given the success of top-two primaries in California, Washington, and Nebraska, Open Primaries believes that the system could greatly reduce obstructionism and hyper-partisanship in the Mount Rushmore State, and would send a strong message to Washington that America’s voters are reclaiming their democracy. They are currently matching all donations to Vote Yes on V, 2-to-1.

Open Primaries is also supporting two ballot initiatives championed by the Let Colorado Vote campaign. Independent voters comprise a plurality of the electorate in Colorado, yet are shut out of the primaries.

Proposition 107 would would re-establish presidential primary elections in Colorado and open them up to unaffiliated voters. Proposition 108 would allow unaffiliated voters to cast a ballot in non-presidential primaries. The campaign has been so successful that the political establishment has resorted to distorting the language in the voter guide to confuse voters. Open Primaries President John Opdycke responded with an op-ed in Newsweek.

Virginia General Assembly Delegate Sam Rasoul — a strong ally of the open primaries movement — recently introduced a constitutional amendment that would adopt a top-two primary system in his state — HJ 541. Rasoul believes that the measure will make elections far more competitive in Virginia, where 100% of incumbents were reelected last year. He penned an op-ed with Open Primaries Senior Vice President Jeremy Gruber on the implications of public primaries in Virginia. Open Primaries is currently staging a contact your legislator campaign for Virginians who support Rasoul’s measure.

Mark Moody is an independent voter who was prevented from voting for Bernie Sanders because of New York’s closed primary which shut out 3.2 million New Yorkers this year. Mark is also an attorney and has brought a legal challenge under New York’s constitution. His first hearing is December 6th and Open Primaries is supporting his case and organizing folks to attend the first hearing. Open Primaries has a sign-on letter, urging Senator Sanders to attend in support, that has garnered hundreds of signatures so far.

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IN OTHER WORDS: South Dakota's Amendment V can fix America's toxic politics

Posted by jesse shayne on November 02, 2016 at 6:12 PM

This article was written by Rick Knobe for the Mitchell Daily Republic

The Amendment V for Nonpartisan Elections campaign began as a small group of Republicans, Democrats and independents taking on the establishment. It's grown into the beginnings of a national movement to fix our broken politics. I'm urging South Dakotans to stand with us by voting "Yes" on V.

Eighteen months ago, a small group of South Dakota Republicans, Democrats and independents began organizing to fix our broken political process. We all agreed partisan politics has been dysfunctional for too long. We also agreed the growing number of independent voters should be allowed to vote in the primary election they are paying for but are banned from participating.

We modeled Amendment V (for Voter) on Nebraska's nonpartisan open primary they've used for legislative elections for 80 years. Today, Nebraska has some of the most competitive legislative elections in the country, the highest legislative approval rating and everyone gets to vote. Not only is Nebraska good at football, they are good at democracy.

This simple concept has caught on in South Dakota. Over 40,000 people signed the petitions! A national organization called Open Primaries, dedicated to open elections, helped get us started. Their mission is to assist citizens in their quest to open up the closed primary process in this county.

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Independents paying for elections they can't vote in, but Amendment V would change that

Posted by jesse shayne on November 02, 2016 at 6:04 PM

This article was written by Jonathan Ellis for the Argus Leader

The number of independent voters in South Dakota is up sharply for this year’s election, and it’s a pool of voters that supporters of Amendment V hope will deliver victory in next week’s election.

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of registered independents went from 74,608 to 118,639, according to Secretary of State Shantel Krebs’ office. A key argument advanced by backers of Amendment V is that independent voters are treated unfairly by the way the state currently conducts elections.

If it passes, Amendment V would eliminate political party affiliations from election ballots in county, state and federal races. Voters would not have information on the ballot to know if they are voting for a Democrat, Republican, independent, or any other party.

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This election is rigged — but not the way you think

Posted by jesse shayne on October 31, 2016 at 1:42 PM

This article was written by Bob Perls, founder of New Mexico Open Primaries, for

COMMENTARY: We’ve all heard complaints that this election is rigged. It is, but the media did not do it, the Clintons did not do it, and the Russians did not do it.

We, the people, rigged it by electing politicians over and over again who have no interest in competition. It is not “election fraud” that defines this rigged election, but a fraudulent electoral system. This is what we mean:

Wouldn’t you love to have a business where you get to decide who your customers are, who the competition is, how much the product will cost and how much profit you are going to make? Throw in for good measure a pure monopoly (or duopoly) with the government protecting your exclusive franchise and you have just described our electoral system. No one can ever compete.

Politicians get to decide who their customers (voters) are before the voters get to decide who they want in office. This is backwards. Every 10 years politicians create safe districts for themselves or pour the opposition into a few districts so there is no competition for most seats. New Mexico has the least number of candidates with competition in the nation. This means the election is rigged heavily toward the incumbent.

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'Vote Yes to V' supporters go door-to-door across the state

Posted by jesse shayne on October 26, 2016 at 3:18 PM

This article was published by KFSY ABC

Amendment V is one of the 10 ballot measures South Dakota voters will decide on this election day. Both sides of the issue are taking their measures to the streets by going door-to-door in communities across the state.

The duo informing voters on why they should say yes to Amendment V are driving their way from Sioux Falls to major cities and back before election day. Josh Waltjer and Justin Otoski stopped in Aberdeen to bring their message to residents.

Amendment V is a ballot measure the two feel strongly about. Waltjer believes it will take the anger and frustration out of presidential elections as well as letting South Dakota independent voters have a say in primary elections. Otoski served in the military for 8 years and didn't like what he saw in politics.

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