Independents Plan to Push to Change Ohio Primary System

Independents Plan to Push to Change Ohio Primary System

Independent voters are coming together in Ohio to play a role in the mid-term elections, but it’s not the role we are usually cast in by the media as “swing voters.”

Instead, on primary day, May 6, we’ll be working to be visible at a time when we are most invisible.

Primary elections are a critical juncture in the democratic process. They are often the most competitive elections. But in Ohio, independents are forced to join a party in order to weigh in on candidates.

If independents want to remain strictly independent, we can limit ourselves to voting on issues, but that amounts to accepting an abridged ballot — one devoid of candidates — for the simple reason we did not join a pre-approved political organization.

When put in these straightforward terms, the anti-democratic nature of our democracy is hard to miss.

This is the independents’ plight: We are first-class taxpayers when it comes to funding the administration of elections but second-class voters.

A recent Gallup poll shows 42 percent of Americans identify as independent, making the issue all the more urgent as a large and growing segment of the electorate is marginalized in its voting powers by partisan primary systems.

Ohio independents support alternative approaches to the current system of private party primaries.

In a top-two nonpartisan primary, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are on a single ballot and all voters vote on this ballot. The top two vote-getters go on to the general election.

In California, such a system has resulted in more competitive elections, less legislative gridlock and candidates being more attentive to their entire constituent base.

On primary day, Ohio independents will be making ourselves seen and heard in new ways. We will be holding an informational picket at the secretary of state’s office in Columbus, calling on state legislators, writing letters, getting signatures and bringing attention to this flaw in our elections process.

A change is clearly needed so that the voices of millions of independent voters who do not now have full voting rights can be heard. We hope to lead the way to a government less hampered by partisanship and more able to move ahead with the business of leading our country.

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