Florida's Open Primaries Amendment Could Help Ensure Voter Liberty for Mainers
Editor's Note: This piece originally published in the Portland Press Herald, and has been republished with permission from the author.
The presidential election on Nov. 3 is nearly upon us. No matter who’s elected, it will have an immense impact on our nation.
In Florida, another vote is looming that may have just as great an impact. Why? It takes the first steps toward true structural election reform.
Florida, like Maine, has a closed primary. But Floridians courageously collected 1 million petition signatures and fended off bipartisan court challenges in order to put constitutional Amendment 3 (the All Voters Vote amendment) on the November ballot. Voters now will have the opportunity to decide the fate of a citizen initiative to open the state’s primaries to everyone, regardless of party affiliation.
Amendment 3, to be implemented in 2024, “proposes implementing a top-two open primary for all state races, including those for governor, Legislature and Cabinet,” according to the All Voters Vote campaign. “In a top-two open primary, all candidates appear on a single ballot, and all voters vote. The two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the general election. As Florida is currently one of only 12 states that still have closed primaries, approval of this amendment would be a huge step forward for Florida’s 3.6 million independent voters.”
Mainers for Open Elections is calling upon all Mainers: Let’s help Florida. Florida is trying to help us and all Americans. They are trying to break out of their closed primary system, which is the maximum-security party voter prison of all party primaries.
Yes. It bears repeating. Mainers, let’s help Florida voters. Many Mainers vacation there or move and become Florida residents. Quite a few of us have relatives who live there. Let’s all urge Florida voters to support Amendment 3. If it passes, Floridians and, ultimately, all Americans will be on the road to voter liberty.
Florida, being the third most populated state in the Union, has immense power to influence the nation. If the voters of Florida vote in a top-two primary, it will shake the foundation of political life in America today. We all live under a “party democracy,” owned by two private corporations that have controlled state and federal legislatures for generations. Let’s tell the parties the party is over. The first three words of our Constitution are “We the People.” Let’s demand a “ ‘We the People’ democracy” – true structural election reform, not another party but the end of party control over this election system.
Let’s live up to our heritage based on our state motto: “I lead.” So, let’s do it. How? Maine doesn’t have a process for initiated constitutional amendments, but we do have loud voices. Let’s demand that our state Legislature propose legislation and our governor approve a top-four open primary with ranked-choice voting for Maine. (Guess what wonderful Bangor women’s group proposed this wise recommendation?)
How many legislators are willing to put Maine and America first and foremost before their party? Who is willing to sponsor this open-primary legislation? It will be better for all Mainers, including voters, candidates, even the parties for the future.
You might ask: Didn’t ranked-choice voting solve Maine’s election problems? No. Unfortunately, Maine’s political foundation is its closed primary. Ranked-choice voting is like a brand-new second floor built upon a dilapidated first floor and a poorly dug-out cellar. Maine, Florida and the other 10 states with closed primaries need to end them to advance true voter freedom and greater candidate choice, with an open primary as the foundation.
There’s a clamor at election time to get out the vote. Let’s take an equally important second step: Let’s get the parties out of controlling our elections, then maybe some of the nearly 100 million American nonvoters might vote! The parties should participate in but not control our elections. We the People pay for them. For Maine’s and America’s sake, we should own them.