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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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ELECTION 2016 Sanders Delegates Push DNC To Create Commission to Reform Anti-Democratic Superdelegates and Caucus Process

Posted by jesse shayne on July 27, 2016 at 9:57 AM

This article was written by Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet. It also appeared in The National Memo and Truthout

After a contentious afternoon in which the Democratic National Convention’s Rules Committee voted down a series of proposals from the Sanders delegation to reform the most glaring anti-democratic features of the party’s primary and caucus process, negotiators met in secret for several hours and forged an agreement to create a reform commission to change those rules for future elections.

“Let me call us America’s party,” said Texas Congresswomen Sheila Jackson, who rose to support the proposal after opposing the Sanders camp’s amendments only hours before. “And America’s party, the Democratic Party, links arms with our brothers and sisters from Senator Sanders, and the journey that they made and their supporters, and the journey that was made by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters.

“But most of all what I want to say is that divide is no more,” she continued. “That we will climb this journey of victory together. That our arms will be linked and we will go to the floor of this great convention. And I am here to say thank you for being who you are. For I see that mountain that we have been challenged to cover, and I am going to say, we shall overcome and elect the next president of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton, together… together… together.”

The reform commission, which was then approved with 158 yeses, 6 nos and 1 abstention, will look at the main grievances raised by Sanders during the 2016 nominating season: that state party-run caucuses were non-democratic in their counting and allocation of delegates to the next stages in the process, and will, according to Sanders delegates who negotiated, shrink by two-thirds the number of so-called superdelegates, or the party insiders who comprise one-sixth of the 2016 national convention delegates.

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Taxpayers Spent Half a BILLION Dollars on Party Primaries in 2016

Posted by jesse shayne on July 21, 2016 at 3:28 PM

This article was written by Marisa Gomez for the Independent Voter Network

Republican and Democratic parties are in the middle of conducting their national conventions, leaving behind a primary season full of voter confusion, lawsuits, voter purges, and controversial election rules. And as the media spends little time focusing on the fundamental question of whether the purpose of primary elections is to serve voters or political parties, millions of voters who were disenfranchised by party primaries this year had no choice but to pay for the expensive cost to administer them.

Data regarding the costs of primary elections is difficult to find. In most cases, states need to be contacted directly. Open Primaries, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to primary election reform, estimates in a recent study that the costs for the 2016 primaries nationwide totaled nearly half a billion, more than half of which was spent on closed primary elections which, by law, exclude the very taxpayers that fund them.

Open Primaries reports that 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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Closed Primaries are Less Inclusive than Soviet Era Politics

Posted by jesse shayne on July 19, 2016 at 9:50 AM

This article was written by Open Primaries volunteer Gennady Yusim for the Gotham Gazette. It also appeared in the Independent Voter Network.

I grew up in a country where most elections were fixed, voting made no difference, and the political process was a dull affair run by a party whose politics were as odious as its leaders. In that country I was able to live and vote without joining the aforementioned party, although I had to withstand poll workers knocking on my door until I exercised my civic right and duty.

This past March, living in a country that prides itself on its democracy, I had to join a party in order to exercise my right to vote. What communists never forced me to do, the world’s oldest democracy did. In fact, I was lucky that I could vote at all. The 27% of registered New York voters not aligned with the Democrats or the Republicans who wished to vote but did not meet the change-of-party deadline six months ahead of the state’s closed primaries had no such luck.

It may go without saying that no one knocked on my door to remind me to exercise my civic duty.

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New York Primaries are Closed, Repetitive and Costly

Posted by jesse shayne on July 15, 2016 at 10:34 AM

This article was written by Libby Wetzler for the Gotham Gazette

In April, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won the Democratic and Republican New York presidential primaries, respectively. New York has a well-publicized and worsening voter turnout problem, and approximately one in four registered New York voters could have no say in the presidential primary outcomes even if they wanted to - other than by changing their party affiliation more than a year prior.

New York is one of only nine states in the country, as of 2016, in which both major parties run closed primaries, meaning that voting in the Democratic primary is only open to registered Democrats and voting in the Republican primary is only open to registered Republicans. Closed party primaries are closed to unaffiliated registered voters - often referred to as independents - and to voters registered with smaller parties like the Green Party.

According to the New York State Board of Elections, as of April 1 there are 11,726,842 registered voters in New York (this figure includes both active and inactive voters). Of those voters, 2,485,475 are unaffiliated with a party, and 717,182 are registered with parties outside the two major political parties (Conservative, Green, Libertarian, Working Families, Independence, etc. - people regularly register with the Independence Party incorrectly thinking they are registering as “independent,” or unaffiliated). There are almost as many unaffiliated registered voters in New York as there are registered Republicans (2.7 million). There are 5.8 million registered Democrats across the state.

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Catch this civic tech pitch competition during the DNC

Posted by jesse shayne on July 15, 2016 at 10:17 AM

This article was written by Chris Satullo for

Record levels of voter disenchantment with party nominees. Widespread anger at the party primary system. A race to the gutter in political rhetoric, accelerated by social media. Persistent chatter about rigged elections.

And even among dedicated voters, a nagging sense that the election process has spun out of control.

There’s little hyperbole in this summary of where things stand as the party conventions approach and the nation prepares to elect a new president and Congress.

Digital technology stands accused by some of fueling these unhappy trends. The indictment: Tech foments fragmentation of news and dialogue while increasing their velocity to breakneck speeds. This leaves voters bombarded and breathless, adrift in a cloud of nasty claim and counterclaim.

So, have ones and zeroes played a role in this stressful election year? Sure.

But here’s a far more interesting question: Going forward, how can civic tech help create a saner, more satisfying politics?

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