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Miami Herald: "Everyone Deserves a Vote, Even in the Primary"

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

MIAMI, FLA. - The Miami Heard published an editorial Sunday, stating that Florida should adopt open primary reform as the closed primary "contributes to the deep partisan divide we see in Florida and throughout the nation."

Not only that, the Miami Herald understands how crucial the primary process is, as most races end up being decided in the primaries; particularly, in areas that heavily favor one party or another:

"On Election Day this month, 22 of Florida’s 27 U.S. House races were won by more than 10 percentage points or were unopposed. Only the remaining five races were remotely competitive. The real race, then, was in the August primary. Depending on the partisan slant of the district, the Democrat or Republican who won in August coasted to victory in November.

The same was true of most state legislative races. Indeed, in the State House, more than half of the seats were won by at least 20 points or were unopposed. Even though all those primaries were decisive, non-affiliated voters were denied a chance to help choose their representatives."

The lack of competition for voters in elections and a focus on shrinking, more ideologically extreme party bases is having a negative impact on the health of the political landscape and the ability for politicians to get things done.

"But if independents could participate, there would be a large pool of voters that might find moderation appealing. More elected officials might work across the aisle on tough issues without fear of being primaried from the left or the right," writes the Miami Herald.

The Miami Herald also addresses opponents' claim that the parties are private organizations entitled to decide their own nominees without outside interference:

"That would be fine if they truly were just private clubs that ran their own elections. In fact, the parties like having the veneer of a democratic process. All taxpayers pay for those partisan primaries, and Democrats and Republicans receive privileged access to the ballot. It’s eminently fair for the state to ask that all voters be allowed to participate in return.

If the two major parties want to limit participation to only their members, they absolutely can do that. They just shouldn’t expect everyone else to pay for it and pretend it is a legitimately democratic process."

The Miami Herald says Florida can weigh the pros and cons of different types of open primaries, whether it is a move toward a traditional partisan open primary or a nonpartisan open primary like California's top-two. The important thing, the paper says, is that "the conversation should start from the premise that everyone deserves a vote, even in a primary."

Read the full editorial here.

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