Posted by John Fernandes on March 04, 2016 at 1:55 PM
Independent Voters Push For Inclusion In Presidential Primary
They are the largest group of voters in Arizona but as of now they have no say during the presidential primary. We are not talking about Latinos or African-Americans, whites or the elderly, the group is independent voters.
“They feel shut out,” said Armida Lopez with Open Primaries Arizona.
There are more than 1.2 million registered independent voters in Arizona, making up almost 37 percent of all registered voters in the state. There are a bit less than 1.1 million registered Republicans and around 900,000 registered Democrats.
“There’s obstacles and barriers that come with being an independent,” said Lopez.
The group Open Primaries wants to see more rights for independent voters, including participation in future presidential primaries. “We think it’s a form of voter suppression,” Lopez said.
Independent voters can vote in state primaries but they must choose one party’s ballot. To vote in the presidential primary they must register as a Democrat or Republican. Many independents however don’t want to register with a political party just to vote in the primary.
Shelley Meek is a registered independent. She has researched all the candidates and come to the decision that her choice for President is Bernie Sanders.
“I eat and breathe politics,” said Meek. She is by definition a political junkie but she may never be able to cast a vote for her candidate. “It’s very disappointing, I want a say, I want a voice."
Meek is a Bernie Sanders supporter but since she is a registered independent, unless Sanders makes it to the general election she will be unable to cast a vote for her number-one choice.
“I would like to see an open primary,” she said.
Independent voters believe they are not being treated fairly and are asking legislatures to change the current system. Right now legislatures are considering a bill that would make the political parties pay for the cost of presidential primaries instead of taxpayers.
For Meek, the political process is too political, and not enough about the people -- people like her who just want a say in choosing our next president.