#ICYMI: A Roundup of Nonpartisan Voting Rights News

By way of introduction, I’m Jeff Marston, co-chair of the Independent Voter Project.

Starting today and every couple of weeks I’m going to be sending out these short updates with nonpartisan issues that I feel are important for us politicos to start thinking and talking about.

I’m a lifelong Republican, always will be. I was even elected to California’s legislature as one. But I do nonpartisan communications now with a company that includes independents and Democrats.

All my life, I’ve enjoyed talking to people. I honestly could care less what your political party is.  And you know what?  Most everyday voters don’t care either.

That’s the lens from which this regular update is focused.  Whether you’re a partisan or not, I hope it helps you understand the difficult-to-define independent voter.

A final heads-up — I was raised in New Jersey so I focused a bit on my home state this week.

Thanks for reading.

 

New California Senator Steve Glazer Walks Political Tightrope

Source:  Alexei Koseff, Sac Bee

While there have been a number of high-profile elections since the passage of Prop. 14, which gave California the top-two non-partisan primary, Glazer’s victory may be the poster child for what top-two has done to the political landscape.

The change can be summed up by the executive director of the state Democratic Party saying that Glazer ran “a cynical campaign to appeal to Republican voters.” Wow. The head of the Democratic Party trashes their own senator just two weeks after an election. Why? Because he talked to other voters!

 

Also Read: Nonpartisan Elections Are Working in California

 

Two articles from Oklahoma, with very different political perspectives on the issue of allowing independent voters to cast ballots in partisan primaries. The first is a commentary from a Republican County commissioner (akin to a county supervisor) and the second is a more general piece but with a focus on the thoughts of the chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

OK County Commissioner:  Two-party System Works Just Fine

Source:  Brian Maughan, News OK

We have a national problem with voter apathy, no doubt about it, and part of the overall issue is the different perspectives of the “official” voices of the two major parties. To the question of opening the primaries to independents, the commissioner believes it’s a bad idea, diluting what are, as he sees it, the cut-and-dried differences between the parties.

 

Oklahoma Democrats Consider Letting Independents Vote in Their Primary

Source: Rick Green, NewsOK

The chairman thinks it’s an idea that has merit and would serve to show a political philosophy of inclusion and a willingness to accept a broad range of political views.

Perhaps voters are apathetic because, as the Oklahoma GOP doesn’t want independents, registration records show more and more voters don’t want the parties. Speaking as a Republican, from a party preservation perspective, it’s this silly attitude that keeps us from growing. Pretty hard to expand our base if we’re only interested in talking to ourselves. Note the fact that two Republican elected officials, one the state Treasurer and the other a state senator, both take issue with their state chairman and support allowing independents to vote in their primary.

Anyone from the California GOP listening? HINT: We still close the GOP’s presidential primary.

 

How Primary Elections Work

 

Poll: Should New Jersey and Pennsylvania switch to open primary elections?

Source: Jim Flagg, Lehigh Valley Live

An interesting piece from Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania. Currently, both PA and NJ have closed primaries. (IVP has a lawsuit against the constitutionality of NJ’s closed system).

My take: Jim Flagg clearly understands the problem and even points out the multiplier effect that closed primaries and gerrymandering have on reducing competition and voting power. (hmmm, maybe why NJ’s primary turnout is at 5%!)

Flagg also highlights California’s top-two as an example of how greater access might work. Results of the poll? 73% of readers favor some sort of open primary.

 

Why are Taxpayers Paying for Primaries They Can’t Vote In?

Source: Christian Hetrick, Press of Atlantic City

An article explaining how New Jersey voters in three counties just spent upwards of $700,000 or nearly $40 per vote in what was statewide — at 5.1% — the lowest primary election turnout in 90 years.

A classic example of a reporter being right there with a golden opportunity to blow an issue wide open but not realizing what they’ve got staring them in the face. The article is stunning for what it doesn’t ask or at least point out — that there is another, much larger true cost to the taxpayer in that nearly half (47% of New Jersey’s voters) are registered independent and cannot, BY LAW, even participate in the primary.

 

N.J. Democrats Look to Expand Voting Options?

Source:  Maddie Hanna,  Philly.com

From the Trenton bureau of the Philadelphia Inquirer telling how New Jersey’s Democratic legislators seek to improve voter registration and turnout in the wake of the pathetic 5.1% statewide showing in the state’s primary election earlier this month.

My Take: “It’s about giving everybody a shot.” Who is everybody? We’ll, it’s anybody who registers with either of two major parties. Have you thought about everybody having an equal right to vote, whether or not they want to join ‘your party’? Well, we know the answer to that question.

Then there’s Governor Christie. His response misses the ball, too. He demonstrated zero interest in having more voters participate.

Image: Allegra / Flickr