Posted by Russell Daniels on January 20, 2021 at 1:39 PM
Open primaries long overdue in New York
written by John Opdycke & Jeremy Gruber for TimesUnion
New York lawmakers approved a series of electoral reforms over the last two years, including early voting and consolidation of primary elections. Most recently, they made another smart upgrade: automatic voter registration.
Here’s a prediction. Automatic registration will increase the voter rolls in New York by millions, and the vast majority of them will be independent voters. That’s a problem, because New York’s political system is among the most hostile to independents in the country. How that friction resolves itself will help determine whether New York becomes an example of how democracy can work, or continue to wallow at the bottom of the pack.
In 2015 Oregon became the first state to adopt automatic registration, and its contribution to Oregon’s highest-in-the-nation voter turnout has been widely heralded and copied. Back in 2015 registered independent voters were 20 percent of the Oregon electorate. Five years later, they are 34 percent of the electorate. Since 2015, 67 percent of all new registrants in Oregon chose “no party affiliation” when they registered to vote. At current rates of growth they will surpass Democratic Party registration in a few years to become the state’s largest group of voters. This rejection of party membership is putting pressure on elected officials to change how they campaign and govern, and the rules for participation.