Posted by Russell Daniels on April 01, 2019 at 3:59 PM
Florida Open Primaries Victory Reversed in Backroom Vote
A 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
Several 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