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New VA Bill Would Give Voters a Truly Open Primary

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

Virginia Independent Voters Association Director Steve Richardson wrote an op-ed in The Virginian-Pilot Thursday in support of a new bill that would reform state primaries to a nonpartisan, top-two open primary similar to California and Washington state.

"THANKS TO Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, the Virginia General Assembly has an opportunity to return our commonwealth to its historical role as a leader of democracy. He has introduced a bill, HB1129, that would establish a truly open primary.

Instead of having to pick a party ballot in the primary and being stuck with only those choices, voters could vote for any candidate in the primary. The two candidates who receive the most votes would move on to the general election. This system is already used in Nebraska, California and Washington state.

Why is this important? Because we no longer have a representative democracy. Voter turnout is low because all the real decisions are made by party die-hards, who are responsible for the agenda items least supported by the majority of voters. Our system has been turned upside down because party politics force candidates to cater to the few in the primary so they can make it onto the general election ballot.

Virginia voters have shut down several attempts to close our party primaries. A strong show of support by voters for Rasoul’s open primary bill — especially at this critical juncture in American politics — could persuade lawmakers of both major parties to do the right thing by passing this bill."

Read the full op-ed here.

Photo Credit: Rob Crandall /

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