Posted by Russell Daniels on August 13, 2021 at 3:33 PM
What just happened?
Big news! Just this afternoon, the Maine Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (a joint House/Senate committee) debated LD 231, the semi-open primaries bill. They voted the bill positively out of committee with an "ought to pass" recommendation.
The bill’s chief sponsor Senator Chloe Maxmin declared:
“I am delighted that a majority of my colleagues on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee join me in valuing the voices of our unenrolled neighbors and friends. Maine’s current closed primary system is misaligned with our shared values of civic participation and inclusive electoral policies. Fortunately, we are now one step closer to remedying this outdated system by passing L.D. 231.”
In a year in which many states are considering the rollback of voter rights, Maine is continuing its role as a bellwether state for political reform. With well over a third of Maine voters registered as independents, the pressure to let all voters vote has consumed voters, politicians, and the media all across the state in support of opening primary elections to independent voters.
The bill now heads to the floor of the Maine Senate for a vote-likely in early June. We’ll make sure to keep you updated.
Who is speaking up?
Independent voters--in great force and it seems that’s not changing anytime soon.
A new piece out today from US News finds that independent voters are exercising increasing levels of control over Democratic and Republican candidates--and this trend is here to stay. Independent voters have determined the winner of the last five presidential elections, and their numbers are growing. Gallup recently found for the first time that 50% of Americans consider themselves politically independent. At that rate, the Democratic and Republican Parties ignore them at their peril.
Independents have long been misrepresented as “party leaners” or interested in forming new parties, but as OP President John Opdycke observes in the piece:
"People who are going independent are not looking for a third party. They're looking for an end to party politics."
With dozens of states continuing to lock out independent voters from primary elections and allowing a diminishing base of party insiders to pick our political candidates, American democracy is reaching a boiling point.
Pennsylvania! Legislation has been introduced in PA by Senator Laughlin to OPEN the primaries to all voters! It’s identical to legislation that passed the Senate last session but stalled in the House. Pennsylvania is 1 of only 12 fully closed primary states and this change would enfranchise over 800,000 PA voters currently locked out.
This is exciting news. You can keep up to date on all the latest developments in PA and support the effort with our partners at Open Primaries PA.
One of our partners, The Princeton Gerrymandering Project, has announced the launch of its Great American Map Off, a contest challenging the public to draw redistricting plans for seven crucial states -- Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina and New York -- in anticipation of the 2021 redistricting cycle.
All maps must be submitted by June 15, 2021 and prizes will be awarded based on several different categories (partisan fairness, stealth gerrymander, competition & communities of interest).
Submit your map, win a prize and help increase public engagement around gerrymandering during the 2021 redistricting cycle: