Open Primaries Hotlist Volume 18 - Open Primaries
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Open Primaries Hotlist Volume 18

Posted by Russell Daniels on April 01, 2019 at 3:59 PM

Florida Open Primaries Victory Reversed in Backroom Vote

florida.jpgA dramatic and unexpected victory for a Constitution Revision Commission open primaries proposal was swifty reversed by a second committee in what amounted to a backroom vote.

On January 26th, the Elections and Ethics Committee, which had been studying open primaries proposal 62 for months, voted to advance it in a 6 to 3 vote. The proposal, sponsored by Commissioner Bill Schifino, would have moved Florida from a closed primary system to an open “top two” primary system and fully enfranchised 3.4 million independent voters who are currently barred from voting in the state’s taxpayer funded primary elections. Non-partisan organizations such as the League of Women Voters joined the chorus of support before the Ethics and Elections Committee. The vote followed weeks of expert testimony, debate, and public comment.

The following Thursday, the General Provisions Committee shot down the proposal with less than an hour of discussion. Commissioner Schifino, Director of Fair and Open Primaries Steve Hough, OP Senior Vice President Jeremy Gruber, and All Voters Vote leader Glenn Burhans testified. They answered several questions from the committee, but the committee was unanimous in their decision to stop the progress of the proposal.  

In a new article out from Tampa Bay Creative Loafing, Gruber went on record saying: “I've spent [a] 20-year career at hearings in states across the country and many times before in the halls of Congress, and I've seen a rigged vote before. And this was without a doubt a rigged vote.”

On Wednesday February 7th, Spectrum News will hold a Television Town Hall on open primaries in the Orlando and Tampa areas at 7pm Eastern Time. Steve Hough and Glenn Burhans will be invited guests. They’ll discuss what happened in the Commission process, and why the 73% of Floridians who support open primaries shouldn’t allow a small group to stand in their way. While only local Spectrum customers can watch live, we will provide a link to the video if one becomes available.

Open Primary Bill Fight in Virginia

sam_rasoul.jpegSeveral weeks ago, Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) introduced HB 1129 to the Virginia General Assembly. The bill would have reformed Virginia’s primaries to a nonpartisan, top two system similar to California, Nebraska and Washington.

Steve Richardson, Director of the Virginia Independent Voters Association, recently published an op-ed in The Virginia-Pilot in support of the bill: “We no longer have a representative democracy. Voter turnout is low because all the real decisions are made by party die-hards, who are responsible for the agenda items least supported by the majority of voters. Our system has been turned upside down because party politics force candidates to cater to the few in the primary so they can make it onto the general election ballot.”

Richardson goes on to lay out the opportunity Virginia has: “A strong show of support by voters for Rasoul’s open primary bill — especially at this critical juncture in American politics — could persuade lawmakers of both major parties to do the right thing by passing this bill.”

On Thursday February 1st, Richardson testified on behalf of Del. Rasoul’s open primaries bill in front of Virginia’s Privileges and Elections subcommittee. While the subcommittee voted the bill down, both Richardson and Rasoul remain committed to bringing nonpartisan primaries to the state of Virginia.

National Reformers form Association
to Challenge Two Party Duopoly


Leading national nonpartisan reform organizations have come together to form a coalition dedicated to creating a more equal playing field for all voters, candidates, and officeholders regardless of party affiliation or non-affiliation. The group is called the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers (NANR) and it’s composed of organizations who have spent years advancing reforms that increase voter participation, electoral competition, and accountability in politics.

Founding members of NANR include representatives from: the Bridge Alliance, The Independent Voter Project, the Chamberlain Project, FairVote Action, Open Primaries, the Centrist Project, California Forward and Let Colorado Vote. Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter will serve as Honorary co-chairs of the association. Gehl and Porter are co-authors of the research study Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America published by the Harvard Business School.

From NANR’s preamble:

“We further recognize that the remedy to our unrepresentative and unresponsive government is to credibly challenge the institutionalized advantages that transfer control of the electoral process from the people to the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties, and we resolve to mount that challenge.”

President of OP, John Opdycke hosts conference call with Harvard Business School report co-author, Katherine Gehl

gehl2.jpgOpen Primaries President, John Opdycke hosted a conference call with business leader and co-author of Harvard Business School’s report Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America, Katherine Gehl. They were joined by activists, thought leaders, and reformers from 49 states around the country in a very engaged conversation on the current state of our democracy.

Gehl’s report lays out the hard truth that the two major parties do not have the American people’s best interest in mind and that is leading to serious repercussions. The discussion dove deeply into the different structural challenges that keep our system rigged, and how we as Americans can respond to it. Many participants asked questions ranging from the role of academics in reform to public funding in closed primary states to gerrymandering and beyond. This was an important conversation to have and we look forward to arranging more of these calls in the future.

We’ll send out a recording of the conversation soon in a separate email.

Coast to Coast Open Primaries Roundup

ALABAMA: Rep. Mike Ball (R) has introduced HB 214 that would replace Alabama’s current primary system with a top two open primary -- READ

IDAHO: Nonpartisan elections are working in Idaho Falls City -- READ

NEBRASKA: Democrats must court Independent Voters -- READ

NEW MEXICO: Sen Ivey-Soto introduces automatic voter registration bill. Some wonder if it will work in a closed primary state since independents will remain unable to vote -- READ

SOUTH DAKOTA: State Rep. Mark Mickelson wants to make it more difficult for voters to amend their constitution -- READ


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published this page in Newsletter 2019-04-01 15:59:14 -0400