Protecting Open Primaries

There has been a growing effort by partisan legislatures over the last five years to move legislation aimed at closing their state’s primaries. Their math is simple: closed primaries give them-not the people- more control over the election process.  During the 2021 legislative calendar alone, there were “close the primaries” legislative efforts in Utah, Missouri, Virginia, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Louisiana.  There was also significant internal party discussions and debate in South Carolina, Tennessee, Montana, Georgia, Wyoming and Arkansas.   Open Primaries monitors these efforts and runs opposition campaigns where needed. 

When closed primary legislation was introduced in Utah in 2021, we worked with our partners at the Electoral Innovation Lab at Princeton to debunk the claims made by the bill’s sponsors.  Our report generated front page news, editorial support for maintaining open primaries, and significant pressure on the bill’s sponsor, who ultimately rolled back the legislation. 

In Louisiana, a closed primary bill introduced by insider Republicans and Democrats was defeated after an effort led by Sen. Bill Cassidy and Open Primaries pressured leadership to withdraw the legislation.

Similar efforts in Missouri have prevented closed primary legislation from advancing out of the House of Representatives over several sessions.

Since 2015, we have successfully defeated every bill introduced to close the primaries.  

But “close the primary” advocates are just getting started.

Our partners at Common Ground AR have just successfully defeated an attempt by the Arkansas Republican Party to adopt rules to close the primaries! 

In July, delegates to the GOP’s state convention voted to declare their support for closed primaries as part of the state party’s platform. 

93% of AR voters are not registered to a party and would’ve been barred from voting in the Republican primary–Common Ground AR took swift action and organized a campaign to make the peoples’ voice heard and IT WORKED. 

This past Saturday, the Republican state committee voted on the proposal and found itself 18 votes short of moving forward. Congrats to Common Ground for a job well done!

Still, efforts to close the primaries are accelerating across the South. Three states-Tennessee, Missouri and Alabama-have already adopted Republican Party rules in favor of closed primaries and we’re expecting at least half a dozen states to introduce legislation to such effect next month. 

Read Open Primaries Senior VP Jeremy Gruber’s recent testimony in opposition to HB1166 to close New Hampshire’a primaries and follow this page for updates on all our 2022 defense campaigns. 

To learn whether there is an effort to close the primaries in your state and join the fight email:

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