Just when you thought independents couldn’t face any more voter discrimination this year, they will be hit with four closed primaries in a single day on April 26.
This comes a week after independents were disenfranchised by the closed New York primary on April 19, a primary where voters were required to register with a party six months in advance and a record amount of independents were told they didn’t re-register in time or were turned away from the polls.
The five contests on Tuesday are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Of these, only Rhode Island is a mixed primary. The rest are as closed as can be, cutting off anyone who isn’t registered with a party from voting.
This system is designed to give more weight to the vote of party faithfuls, but has some very negative side effects as evidenced by the exclusion of younger voters who have yet to decide on a party affiliation. Closed primaries also contribute to the rigid policy positions of candidates who feel the need to conform to their party’s platform.
In Pennsylvania, roughly 675,000 voters are registered as independent, and 440,000 more belong to third parties. The deadline to register in one of the parties was 30 days before the primary. Unless they made the deadline, these voters will be turned away at the ballot box. In Delaware, a state that has 154,751 registered independents as of January 2016, the deadline was 24 days before election day.
In Rhode Island, unaffiliated voters may vote in a party’s primary, but upon doing so they will be considered affiliated with that party. They must then file a “Change of Party Designation” form in order to disaffiliate. In essence, voters are forced to join a party even if they’d rather remain impartial.