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Nonpartisan Open Primaries Coming to the Deep South?

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

The Alabama legislature will consider a bill that would change the state's primary election process to a nonpartisan, top-two open primary similar to the systems in California and Washington state.

The bill, introduced by Alabama State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison), would put all candidates -- regardless of party affiliation -- on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters would move on to the general election.

Alabama currently uses a closed partisan system. Voters must re-register as Democrats 36 days before the primary to vote on the Democratic ballot, while voters can declare themselves Republican on primary election day to vote on the Republican ballot.

The system not only greatly limits voter choice, but it also diminishes the voting power of people in the political minority.

“You get in areas that are predominantly Republican or predominantly Democrat, the people on the other side really don’t have a say,” said Ball, in an interview for the Montgomery Advertiser. “For special elections, there’s a really low turnout. This might increase participation.”

The bill, as written, would apply to all elections except the presidential primaries. As expected, the bill is getting pushback from the parties, including Ball's own party. Get the full story here.

Photo Credit: Gino Santa /

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