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Report: Nebraska May Have the Key to Fixing a Broken Congress

Posted by Kellie Ryan on October 14, 2015 at 3:58 PM

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This article was written by By Shawn M. Griffiths for Independent Voter Network.

Nebraska arguably has the most unique political system in the U.S. Not only are state lawmakers elected using nonpartisan elections, but they serve in a nonpartisan, unicameral legislature.

Open Primaries released a new study, titled The Myth of the Red State: Policy Over Party in the Nebraska State Capitol, on the impact this political makeup has had on state politics and the possible remedy it offers for the hyper-partisan environment on Capitol Hill.

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More props for Nebraska's nonpartisan legislature

Posted by Kellie Ryan on October 05, 2015 at 4:32 PM

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This article was written by Don Walton for the Lincoln Journal Star.

Open Primaries, a national organization seeking fundamental election reform, has released a report extolling the Nebraska legislative model and titled "The Myth of the Red State: Policy over Party in the Nebraska State Capitol.""In Nebraska, debates on issues critical to the public prevail over partisan politics," says Jeremy Gruber, author of the report.

"The corrosive effects of partisan gamesmanship are diminished and productive legislating is thriving."

Gruber contrasts the independent record of Nebraska's state senators, including this year's override of three gubernatorial vetoes of legislation that he describes as "progressive reforms," with a congressional delegation that "consistently votes the party line."

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Nebraska government study: Nonpartisan elections empower independence

Posted by Kellie Ryan on October 02, 2015 at 2:31 PM

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This article was written by Travis Fain for the Daily Press.

October 1, 2015—There's an interesting study out from a group called Open Primaries, which looked at Nebraska's unicameral legislature and non-partisan elections to find across-the-aisle cooperation without automatic rejection of ideas associated with the minority party.

"The legislature is generally free of the type of strong-arm partisan politics that characterize political activity in Congress and most state legislatures," the report states. "Although 71% of Nebraska representatives are registered members of the Republican Party, nonpartisan coalitions are commonplace and the legislature has engaged a wide range of 'progressive' issues, from abolishing the death penalty to immigration reform."

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Ideas We Should Steal: Open Primary Voting

Posted by Kellie Ryan on September 17, 2015 at 1:12 PM

Has Philadelphia ever elected a bona fide “outsider” as mayor? It’s a question I’ve pondered after the ho-hum Democratic mayoral primary this May, which featured a trio of party stalwarts as frontrunners who were about as exciting as the ghosts of Party past (Lynne Abraham), present (Anthony Williams), and future (Jim Kenney). As it turns out, I seemed to find one in Robert Eneas Lamberton, elected 75 years ago with credentials suggestive of a Bloomberg-ian type mayor:  no prior legislative-branch experience; described in this beauty of a 1940 Time magazine feature as a “husky, unassuming and stubborn” bridge player who almost accidentally rose to be mayor. 

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Party down: Open primaries to all, California-style primaries would ease Albany deadlock and allow independent voters a greater voice in elections.

Posted by Jb Opdycke on September 14, 2015 at 2:30 PM

This Op-Ed was written by Open Primaries President John Opdycke and published in Crain's New York Business.

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September 13, 2015—California was for years a symbol of legislative paralysis, partisan brinkmanship and Soviet-style elections. Special-interest groups exerted outsize influence. From 2000 to 2009, only two Assembly and congressional incumbents lost; both were under criminal investigation. Sound familiar, New Yorkers?

But things have changed since 2010, when the state’s voters made primary elections nonpartisan, with the top two vote-getters facing off in the general election.

The New York political establishment has stymied such a reform here with dire warnings, but now we know the impact in California was swift and positive. Its elections are now the most competitive in the nation, and the legislature tackles difficult issues and passes budgets on time. Nonpartisan coalitions are commonplace.

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Bernie Sanders Should Embrace Political Reform

Posted by Jb Opdycke on August 21, 2015 at 9:51 AM

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This article was published by John Opdycke and Jessie Fields for Newsweek.

You have to hand it to Bernie Sanders. He’s defying expectations across the board. He’s giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money that few expected. He’s ahead of her in the polls in New Hampshire and showing no sign of losing momentum.

Senator Sanders is popular because he is speaking out aggressively about income inequality and a disastrous foreign policy. But his support actually grows out of a deeper discord, one that goes beyond specific issues.

He has tapped into roiling public anger at a corrupt and insulated political establishment that has acquiesced in war and greed without the consent of the governed. Sanders is popular because he is taking on a corrupt and insulated political establishment, not because he has the “correct” line on this or that issue.

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Has jungle primary tamed Legislature?

Posted by Kellie Ryan on August 04, 2015 at 3:53 PM

This article was written by Steven Greenhut for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

SACRAMENTO — California’s political system has long been the focus of tinkerers who want to make it more responsive to the voters. This fixation goes back at least to the Progressive Era, when Gov. Hiram Johnson helped usher in reforms that are still the subject of debate today — the initiative, recall and referendum.

The goal, of course, was to give the voting public — rather than special interests and party bosses — a greater say in how the state is governed.

One of the more significant recent California electoral reforms to attempt this is the “top two” primary, which was approved by voters (Proposition 14) in 2010 and first implemented in a 2011 special election. Previously, for most races the parties nominated their candidates in a primary election, and then the winners — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, etc. — would face off against each other in the November general election.

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Here's a foolproof way to increase political participation

Posted by Kellie Ryan on July 30, 2015 at 5:12 PM

This article was written by Open Primaries president John Opdycke for PennLive.com.

The fastest growing segment of voters in both Philadelphia and Pennsylvania as a whole are independents.  

Conventional wisdom would have you believe that independents are less engaged than their partisan brethren. 

They are referred to by most pundits as "fence sitters," "leaners" and other creative terms that highlight their essential wishy-washiness.    

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Group proposes amendment to open Florida's primaries to all voters

Posted by Kellie Ryan on July 22, 2015 at 10:56 AM

This article was written by Mary Ellen Klas for the Miami Herald's Tallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE — Armed with data showing that the fastest growing segment of Florida’s electorate is choosing no party affiliation, a bipartisan group of activists is pushing for a constitutional amendment to open Florida’s closed primary system to all voters.

The All Voters Vote amendment will be delivered Wednesday to the Florida Division of Elections with the hope of getting enough signatures to place it on the 2016 ballot.

Miami lawyer Gene Stearns, who is leading the effort, said the goal is to encourage elected officials to listen to a broader swath of voters by giving voice to the growing number of Floridians who are written out of the state’s primary election system because they choose not to register with any political party.

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The Supreme Court Grants the American People the Right to Shape their own Government Institutions

Posted by Kellie Ryan on July 07, 2015 at 3:08 PM

This article was written by Open Primaries President John Opdycke for The Hill.

This week, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the Arizona legislature, which was seeking to invalidate an Independent Redistricting Commission established by Arizonans through the initiative and referendum process.

The Arizona Legislature asserted that they, not a voter created independent commission, had the right to draw Congressional district lines.  They based their arguments on a literal reading of the constitution.  But in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court ruled that the term “Legislature” did not refer only to specific representative bodies but rather to the legislative process, which in Arizona and 23 other states includes citizen-initiated legislation.    

It is an important ruling.  The Court protected the right of the American people to use the initiative and referendum process to shape governmental institutions.  The ruling also sheds light on the disconnect between Americans and our elected representatives; illustrating why Congress has an 80% disapproval rating.

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