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Open Primaries in the news

New initiatives would create presidential primary, open primaries to unaffiliated voters

Posted by jesse shayne on August 24, 2016 at 3:43 PM

This article was written by Joey Bunch for the Denver Post

Colorado voters will decide in November whether to change how political parties in the state select their nominees.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday that two questions around a primary election system qualified for the ballot by having at least 98,942 valid signatures from registered voters (or 5 percent of the total votes in the last election for secretary of state).

Colorado currently uses a caucus system, run by the parties, to select nominees for the general election.

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My Voice: Nonpartisan elections: It’s time for change

Posted by jesse shayne on August 23, 2016 at 10:54 AM

This article was written by Joe Kirby for the Argus Leader

Americans are fed up with partisan politics at both the national and state level. It’s time to put the voters back in charge and send a message to Pierre and Washington by passing Amendment V - Nonpartisan Elections.

Two decades ago, I joined with other community leaders to fix the problems with Sioux Falls city government. We crafted a much better way for city government to operate and then took it to voters for approval. Our principal opposition was public officials and others who sought to protect the status quo. Voters saw through that self-interest and approved the change. The rest is history; our city is thriving and has never regretted the change to better government. Now our state has a similar opportunity.

Amendment V, on the ballot this November, would bring a nonpartisan election system to the state. Similar systems work well elsewhere – particularly in Nebraska, which has used this system for nearly 80 years to elect their legislature. I am genuinely excited, because I think it could fix a number of problems, both in our state and nationally.

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Can the States Save American Democracy?

Posted by jesse shayne on August 22, 2016 at 1:12 PM

This article was written by Hendrick Smith for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — In this tumultuous election year, little attention has focused on the groundswell of support for political reform across grass-roots America. Beyond Bernie Sanders’s call for a political revolution, a broad array of state-level citizen movements are pressing for reforms against Citizens United, gerrymandering and campaign megadonors to give average voters more voice, make elections more competitive, and ease gridlock in Congress.

This populist backlash is in reaction to two monumental developments in 2010: the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling authorizing unlimited corporate campaign donations, and a Republican strategy to rig congressional districts. Together, they have changed the dynamics of American politics.

That January, Justice John Paul Stevens warned in his dissent that Citizens United would “unleash the floodgates” of corporate money into political campaigns, and so it has. The overall funding flood this year is expected to surpass the record of $7 billion spent in 2012.

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“America Deserves Better”: Newspaper Takes on Citizens United, Debate Inclusion

Posted by jesse shayne on August 19, 2016 at 1:50 PM

This article was written by Jeff Powers for the Independent Voter Network

The Editorial Board at the San Diego Union Tribune has taken to task the Clinton Foundation and by proxy, the special interests that have dominated our current political landscape.

The editorial focuses on the 2010 Citizens United decision, where a “bitterly divided Supreme Court ruled that corporations have political speech rights and shouldn’t have limits on their independent political expenditures.”

A recent article on IVN delves into this topic in-depth, looking at the impact special interest money has had on the election process and where the presidential candidates stand on Citizens United. Yet, while the issue of private money in politics is a concern for many voters, there is also the issue of how the Republican and Democratic parties are using public tax dollars to maintain control of elections.

Another article posted on IVN shows that the costs for the 2016 primaries nationwide totaled nearly half a billion dollars, more than half of which was spent on closed primary elections which, by law, exclude the very taxpayers that fund them.

The author of the Open Primaries report, Jeremy Gruber, will be on the IVN podcast next week to discuss the dominance of the two major parties. Over 26.3 million voters were locked out of closed primary elections nationwide — elections that serve the private purpose of selecting party candidates — because they were not registered to vote with the Republican or Democratic Party. Yet, closed primaries alone cost taxpayers an estimated $287 million.

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In South Dakota, Voters Get Rare Chance to Transform Politics

Posted by jesse shayne on August 18, 2016 at 3:39 PM

This article was written by Daniel C. Vock for Governing Magazine

Change tends to happen gradually in state government. But South Dakota could see rapid -- and sweeping -- change to its electoral laws next year. That is, if voters there approve a raft of ballot measures in November.

Any one of the changes would be significant; collectively, they would be a game-changer for not just South Dakota but election advocates in other states. The crowded ballot includes three proposals that would change basic elements of elections in South Dakota: the role of political parties, the process for drawing new legislative districts and candidates’ options for funding their campaigns.

Each of the measures would also significantly loosen the tight grip the Republican Party has on elected offices in the state, which has made it difficult for Democrats to achieve much on their agenda, including election reform.

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Court Upholds State’s Open Primary Elections

Posted by jesse shayne on August 17, 2016 at 5:26 PM

This article was published in Big Island Now

In a published opinion issued on Monday, Aug. 15, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hawai‘i’s practice of holding open primary elections.

This ruling has no effect on the 2016 primary or general elections.

The Democratic Party of Hawai‘i had sued the state office of elections in 2013 and sought to limit participation in the Democratic primary election to registered Democrats only.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Democratic Party did not show that the open primary system burdens its associational rights.

The party offered no evidence that the open primary impacted its candidates or messages.

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'Bernie 2.0' Can't Be Revolution Just for Democrats

Posted by jesse shayne on August 04, 2016 at 4:16 PM

This article was written by Michael Harthorne for Newser

John Opdycke, writing in the Hill, knows what he wants to see out of "Bernie 2.0," and it isn't for Sanders to become the Democratic Party's "official in-house radical." Opdycke says Sanders needs to decide whether "this a 'what' revolution or a 'how' revolution" and whether he'll be "remaking" the Democratic Party or America itself. "There is little space within the current, highly partisan arrangement for new ideas and new programs," Opdycke writes. "From both a moral and a pragmatic standpoint, the process issues are crucial when it comes to Bernie's next steps." (Opdycke is the president of Open Primaries, a group dedicated to election reform.)

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Whose Revolution?

Posted by jesse shayne on August 04, 2016 at 4:06 PM

This article was written by Open Primaries President John Opdycke for The Hill and the Independent Voter Network

Bernie Sanders had a great run. He exceeded every expectation, mobilized millions, and changed the political conversation. He made the word revolution fashionable again.

Now he’s focused on getting Hillary Clinton elected and forming a new grassroots organization, Our Revolution.

My question for Bernie is an ontological one: “Is this a “what” revolution or a “how” revolution?”

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Why should taxpayers foot the bill for closed primaries?

Posted by jesse shayne on August 02, 2016 at 1:11 PM

This article was written by Thomas D. Elias for the Los Angeles Daily News

California’s June presidential primary election is now just a memory, long ago subsumed in the news by vice presidential derbies, political conventions, politicians’ gaffes and violence at home and abroad.

But one question lingers on: Why did taxpayers have to cover the primary election costs for those political parties that did not let any voter who liked cast a ballot in their contests?

In June, Democrats and Greens allowed anyone registered as either a Democrat or without party preference to vote in their primaries, although there were a few hoops for non-Democrats to jump through. Republicans and a couple of minor parties (American Independent, for one) did not. They ran completely closed affairs, with no one not registered as a party member allowed to vote.

This meant barely 27 percent of registered voters could participate in the Republican balloting, which turned out to be no big loss for anyone because Donald Trump’s significant opponents all dropped out weeks before the vote.

But why should the 68 percent of voters eligible to vote on the Democratic side have had to contribute to the costs of running the Republican primary when there was no way for them to participate even if they wanted to?

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Philly American Experiments features tools to encourage voter participation

Posted by jesse shayne on July 29, 2016 at 10:14 AM

This article was written by Jake Blumgart for KnightBlog

On the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, techies and activists packed into the University City Science Center’s Quorum space to advertise their wares for the “American Experiments” showcase. Sponsored by the nonpartisan watchdog group the Committee of Seventy, Microsoft,, and Knight Foundation—among many others—the event provided an opportunity to bring civic-minded tech to the masses of politically minded people who have descended on the city.

The 18 vendors attending American Experiments ranged from local organizations such as Code for Philly, the city’s Code for America brigade, to long-established national groups such as e.thePeople, which debuted in 1999. The air buzzed with talk of partisanship, disenfranchisement and low voter turnout as attendees were introduced to the tools that the participants hope to use to make our democracy more transparent and accessible.

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