Posted on September 08, 2016 at 9:42 AM
Senior Vice President
Research Finds New Yorkers Have Already Spent over 25 Million Dollars on Closed Primaries This Year
Millions of New Yorkers Barred from Next Week’s Election
New York – September 8, 2016 – This year’s primaries have already cost New York taxpayers over $25 million dollars according to an analysis by election reform group Open Primaries. Indeed, the gross lack of transparency by New York officials on the costs of primary elections likely makes the true cost of New York’s primaries much higher. While 3.2 million voters in the state of New York– 27 percent of the electorate-- will be blocked from voting in next week’s primary election, millions more of their tax dollars will continue to fund closed primaries.
“The idea that our primary elections are simply private party nominating contests is a lie and a deceit that obfuscates the fact that they are publicly run and paid for with millions of dollars of taxpayer money. New York’s primary elections are administered in public buildings and run by publicly paid for employees on publicly owned machines. They differ from the general election in one key respect only; that they exclude 3.2 million voters, including one-third of all millennial voters, and prevent millions more major party voters from exercising real choice in voting.
Everyone should be allowed to vote. Voting for who you want shouldn’t be controversial. We must stop prioritizing political advantage over strengthening our democracy. New York’s politics has become dysfunctional because its election system is undemocratic.”
-- Jeremy Gruber, Senior Vice President, Open Primaries
As many activists, civic leaders, elected officials, and good government organizations have noted, New York has the worst elections laws in the country. New York has no early voting (unlike 37 states), no Election Day registration, a partisan board of elections, excuse-only absentee balloting (voters have to prove they’ll be out of town or have a disability) and holds multiple primary elections on different dates. Independent voters had to change their party registrations by October 9, 2015 to vote in this year’s primary contests. It’s no wonder New York has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country; only 19.7 percent of eligible New Yorkers cast a ballot in April’s presidential primary,the second-lowest voter turnout among primary states after Louisiana.
New York’s election laws are specifically designed by the political parties to keep turnout low and results predictable, and a growing chorus is calling for change.
Assemblyman Fred Thiele, the only independent in the New York State Assembly, noted: “All of us should have a voice in the nomination of candidates, and in the election of candidates, and the way to do that is with open primaries. I hope we can make 2016 the last closed primary in New York.” He has taken the mantle of reform in our state by introducing bills to open the Presidential Primaries to independents and for Top Two nonpartisan primaries in New York.
"It is an outrage that independent voters are being excluded from the political conversation at a time when our political system is in turmoil! New York’s voters are angry that we can’t move forward in solving the serious policy issues this state and our country as a whole face. We need more open doors, and more participation, not less, to secure our democracy.”
-- John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries
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.