Republicans and Democrats in the state Legislature don’t agree on much, other than that the state’s primary elections should be limited to Republicans and Democrats.
Many members of both parties didn’t bother voting last week. But thanks to the determination of legislative Democrats and Republicans to limit primary elections to voters of the parties on the ballot, more than 1.3 million third-party or unaffiliated voters aren’t allowed to vote.
Pennsylvania is one of nine states that limit primary election participation to only members of the parties with candidates on the ballot. Independents are allowed to vote in primaries only on ballot questions.
That is particularly absurd in odd-year primaries, in which school and judicial candidates are on the ballot. Under the notion that school administration and the courts should not be political, school board and judicial candidates are allowed to seek the nominations of both major parties. Yet, those who have rejected major-party influence by registering as independents, are not allowed to vote in those races.
Reform advocates introduce bills in every legislative session to create “open” primaries, in which independents may vote to nominate candidates of any party. Legislative leaders then speak well of the reforms, and make sure they don’t happen.
Independents are the fastest-growing cohort of voters in Pennsylvania. Lawmakers should seek their votes rather than disenfranchise them, by ensuring that today marks the last closed primary in Pennsylvania.
That’s not the only needed electoral reform.
Ever since the Legislature established no-excuse voting by mail in 2019, county election officers of both parties have begged legislators to accommodate changes that they need to ensure smooth and accurate vote counts. But former Republican majorities rejected those pleas because they preferred to accommodate the uncertainty that allowed Donald Trump to lie about election fraud in the state before and after the 2020 election.
With Democrats in the House majority, and a 5% increase in mail voting by Republicans in this election, the Legislature finally should agree to reforms allowing early processing of mailed ballots so that they all can be counted on Election Day.
Independents should be able to vote . There freedom has been taken away in the election process.
5 percent increase? They must have got the 3,000 ballots I mailed in!
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