I am incensed right now. I just returned from the polling center to cast my vote in the Pennsylvania presidential primaries. Guess what! I was not allowed to vote for a presidential candidate. I was only allowed to vote for congress and some other petty PA stuff. “What?” I asked the polling center volunteer in disbelief when I heard I could not vote for a presidential candidate. The volunteer shared that the state of Pennsylvania requires that you declare a party affiliation in order to vote in presidential primaries also known as “closed primaries”. I registered to vote in Pennsylvania when we moved here in 2007. And it’s very likely that I marked “other” when asked about political party affiliation because of my frustration with our very limited two-party political system. But not being able to vote today felt like an infringement of my civil rights. It felt like discrimination. I felt bullied by the both the Republican and the Democratic parties. And shame on me for not being more informed on our electoral process. Here is what I learned.
Time to take some action.
- I did research on-line. I am not alone in feeling disgruntled about the PA closed primary systems. I have attached a link to an article posted on PennsylvaniaWatchdog.org, called “PA’s Closed Primary System Shuts Out Independent Voters”. The author comments how the political parties in Pennsylvania have the right to limit who participates in their primaries, but we all help foot the $20 million bill to conduct the primary election. The article goes on to say that PA is one of 13 states with closed primaries and another 15 have semi-closed primaries. To read the whole article: http://watchdog.org/217449/paindy-pas-closed-primary-system-shuts-out-independent-voters/
- I learned about open, closed, and semi-closed primaries at FairVote.org. FairVote is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that seeks to make democracy fair, functional, and more representative. I signed up to receive updates from FairVote. To learn more about FairVote visit: http://www.fairvote.org/about and http://www.fairvote.org/primaries#open_and_closed_primaries
- My online search led me to a website called openprimaries.org. I found out US Maryland Congressman John Delaney (MD-6) introduced the Open Our Democracy Act H.R. 5334 in July 2014. If passed, this legislation would mandate open primaries for House elections giving voice to independents. I showed my support for the legislation by filling out the electronic form that sent a message to my state representative. I must admit information of the Open Our Democracy Act is confusing. It appears in the CONGRESS.GOV website with a different number, H.R. 2655 and says it was introduced in June of 2015. Nothing has been done with this legislation. It’s probably bogged down with hundreds of other proposed laws.To show support for the Open Our Democracy Act and contact your U.S state Representatives: http://www.openprimaries.org/opendemocracy For information on the Open Our Democracy Act of 2015 https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2655/actions
- I found an organization call Independent Pennsylvanians and signed their petition “Help Open Our Primaries” that would open primaries in Pennsylvania. To sign a petition supporting open primaries in Pennsylvania: http://www.paindependents.org/Action-Center/Open-Primary-Petition/70/
- I joined the mailing list, filled out a survey, and offered to help with grass root efforts with Independent Pennsylvanians. To visit Independent Pennsylvanians: http://www.paindependents.org
- The topic for tonight’s family dinner conversation will be Open Primaries, Closed Primaries, and Semi-Closed Primaries. And of course the injustice that I suffered today!
- Statistics: As published in Gallup in January of this year, the percent of individuals identifying as Republicans or Democrats is at a historical low. From data collected in 2015, 29% of people identified as Republicans, 26% as Democrats, with 42% identifying as independents. It is the fifth year in a row that people identifying as independents has been over 40%. Given these statistics it is imperative that we give independents a voice. http://www.gallup.com/poll/188096/democratic-republican-identification-near-historical-lows.aspx
- Interesting article in NPR “Sick of Political Parties, Unaffiliated Voters are Changing Politics: http://www.npr.org/2016/02/28/467961962/sick-of-political-parties-unaffiliated-voters-are-changing-politics
- Consider moving to a state with Open Primaries:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
I Continue My Quest as a Political Party Orphan
Allow Independent Voters a Voice