Posted on April 22, 2016 at 9:57 AM
Over a Million Pennsylvanians Barred from Next Week’s Pivotal Election
Pennsylvania’s Primary System is Broken
New York –- Next week’s primary in Pennsylvania will be hotly contested; with more delegates at stake than any other state left to vote outside California. Yet 1.1 million independent Pennsylvanians, including almost half of all millennial voters, will be barred from casting a ballot in next week’s primary election despite paying for the election with their tax dollars.
Independents have been influential in states where they are allowed to vote. Exit polling in Massachusetts primary found that independent voters—52% of the electorate—who participated in the Democratic primary chose Bernie Sanders by a nearly 2-1 margin.
In New Hampshire, where 4 in 10 voters are registered independent, exit polling found that independents voted overwhelmingly for Trump (38%), significantly increasing his margins over the next closest challenger Kasich (18%). The margin was even more overwhelming in the Democratic primary, where 72% of independent voters broke for Sanders. Sanders's historic upset in Michigan is widely regarded as the result of the state’s open-primary system.
Voter suppression takes many forms: Long lines. Incompetent administration. Arbitrary registration deadlines. Archaic voter identification requirements. But these barriers, while serious, pale in comparison to the impact that closed, partisan primaries will have on the ability of over a million people in Pennsylvania to cast a ballot and have real choice in voting for a candidate they support. Equally egregious, Republican voters and Democratic voters will be forced to choose a candidate from one party and not allowed the choice to vote for a candidate of a different party in this most decisive of Pennsylvania primary elections.
Pennsylvania shouldn’t have different rules for different voters. We must protect the right to vote for all Americans and bring our politics into the 21st century.
Bernie Sanders has recently criticized the flawed system. “Independents have lost their right to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary. That’s wrong. You’re paying for this election. It’s administered by the state. You have a right to vote. And that’s a very unfortunate thing, which I hope will change in the future.”1
Jennifer Bullock, director of PA Independents, declared: “Our election system in Pennsylvania keeps independents locked out of the primary even though we help pay for it with our taxes. PA Independents has collected over 3,000 signatures from Pennsylvania voters demanding open primaries in Pennsylvania. We will make our presence known at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer.”
John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries, added: “The American people—liberals, conservatives, and the millions of us who don’t like labels at all—want progress, innovation, development, new ideas and new approaches. Gridlock and partisanship wrapped up in a bow and sold to us as stability is a lie and a deception, and the people know it. That’s why the open primaries movement is growing day by day all across the country.”
We can’t make real progress in reforming our political system until we open up our primaries. We can’t make progress without the full participation of “We the People.” For Pennsylvanian’s fed up with the partisan paralyses of our government, election reform offers real hope for the future. The time has come to level the playing field and enact a fair and open primary system.
Open Primaries is dedicated to ensuring that every eligible citizen can go to the polls, vote their choice and cast a ballot that counts.
We CAN reform our democracy. Join us at openprimaries.org
Open Primaries is a national, nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization working to enact open and nonpartisan primary systems, counter efforts to impose closed primaries, educate voters, train and support spokespeople, and participate in the building of local, state and national open primaries coalitions. Open Primaries is a movement of diverse Americans who believe in a simple, yet radical idea: no American should be required to join a political party to exercise their right to vote.