Open Up Primaries to Independent Voters

Open Up Primaries to Independent Voters

Independent voters are coming together in Ohio to play a crucial role in the midterm elections, but it’s not our typical “swing voter” role. 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 often are the most-competitive elections. But in Ohio, independents are forced to join a party first. If we want to remain independent, we are forced to limit ourselves to a ballot including only issues, simply because we did not join a pre-approved political organization.

This makes the anti-democratic nature of our current “democracy” hard to miss.

This is the independent’s plight: We are first-class taxpayers for funding elections, but second-class voters.

A recent Gallup poll shows that 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 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 paying attention to their entire constituent base.

On primary day, Ohio independents will be holding an informational picket at the Secretary of State’s Office in Columbus. We will also be 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 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 our country.

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