Monday, December 15, 2008

Petition for Open Primaries

In states with partisan registration, unaffiliated voters are now 24.8% of the electorate, up 36% since 1992;
• Nationally, nearly 40% of all voters self-identify as independents, regardless of whether they are registered into a party;
• In presidential elections, independents can participate in primaries and caucuses in only 33 states. In 17 states, they are denied access;
• In numerous states, independents can vote in the presidential primaries, but not in other statewide primaries. Only 21 states ensure the inclusion of independents in Congressional primary elections;
• As independents gain in numbers and influence, there has been an intensified effort by major party leaders in states that have open primaries—e.g., Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia and Washington—to close the primaries to independents.

SIGN THE PETITION TO PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA

Sponsored by: The Committee for a Unified Independent Party, Inc. / IndependentVoting.org �� Please send completed petitions to: 225 Broadway, Ste. 2010, New York, NY 10007 �� ph: 212-962-1899 fax: 212-803-1899

3 comments:

Steve Rankin said...

"... there has been an intensified effort by major party leaders in states that have open primaries—e.g., Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia and Washington—to close the primaries to independents."

The federal suits from Idaho, Mississippi, and Virginia challenge(d) the constitutionality of the state-mandated open primary. The 5th Circuit dismissed the Mississippi Democrats' suit on a technicality. However, if they had won the suit, the Dems intended to keep inviting independents into Dem primaries and to only block Republicans. The Republicans, in contrast, said they would keep GOP primaries open to ALL voters.

The Virginia Republicans won their suit in the 4th Circuit, but I don't know whether any of their local units have yet blocked any non-members from their primaries.

The Idaho Republicans' suit is now in the federal district court there. If it wins, the GOP will definitely block Dems from GOP primaries, but I'm not sure whether they will block independents. The Idaho Dems evidently intend to keep Dem primaries open to ALL voters.

Washington state, which does not have party registration, used its "top two" for the first time this year. The federal litigation against the "top two" is ongoing, and should the "top two" be struck down, WA would surely go back to the classic open primary, in which each voter picks a party on primary day.

Nancy Hanks said...

Steve, thanks for your comment. You are ever vigilant! Question: where do you stand on the rights of voters when it comes to primaries? Do you favor having voters included in primaries?

Steve Rankin said...

Nancy: My state of Mississippi mandates open primaries, in which each voter picks a party on primary day. Personally, the only thing I favor changing here would be to eliminate party primaries in our municipal and county elections and change those to nonpartisan elections-- popularly called "open primaries" here.

In the states that do not mandate "pick-a-party" open primaries, I acknowledge the right of each party to decide whether to invite independents into its primaries. I believe the parties should invite independents-- but they shouldn't be forced to do so ("pick-a-party," of course, also forces each party to let members of opposing parties vote in its primaries).

Sooner or later, a case involving state-mandated "pick-a-party" open primaries will reach the US Supreme Court, and when it does, I predict that the high court will outlaw such a mandate (the Idaho Republicans' suit is the only such case now pending).