Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityHearing on State Senate bill to open primary elections | WOLF
Close Alert

Hearing on State Senate bill to open primary elections

Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

With primary elections right around the corner, the State Senate is looking into the way they are conducted. Today a public hearing was held in Hazleton to discuss Bill 690 which was brought forward in the State Senate last year to repeal closed primaries.

Right now, more than 1 million Pennsylvanians voters are registered as unaffiliated or independent. That means come May 17 they won’t be able to cast a vote in the crowded primaries to choose our next governor or US senator.

“Passing open primaries legislation is not just the right thing to do for independent voters, but for the future of the party system," said Maria Collett State Senator (D) 12, one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 690.

“When we deny 16% of the voters the ability to vote in open primaries, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to have a truly representative and responsive government. Our Commonwealth cannot thrive in a system that does not represent the will of the people," said Collett.

Pennsylvania is one of nine states that haven't adopted some form of open primary. Veteran Robert "Rocky" Bleier said this closed system has disenfranchised servicemen like himself, as half of all veterans identify as independent.

“When you fight for our country, and our freedom. You're not fighting for Republicans or Democrats. You're not on the red team or the blue team. You're on the red, white and blue team. That's why it's particularly disappointing to know that independent voters are barred from primary elections in Pennsylvania. How would you explain to a young man or woman returning to their family in Pennsylvania from their service in Iraq or Afghanistan that they can't cast a vote in a primary election? It’s un-American," said Bleier.

According to Ballot PA, an organization calling for the repeal of closed primaries, one in eight Pennsylvania voters are independent, making it the fastest-growing group in the Commonwealth.

“We have a growing number of independent voters all across Pennsylvania, especially younger voters, they're giving up half of their voting power, because as independents that are not allowed to vote in a party primary. This is a law that's been on the books since the 1930s. A lot of people to think it's time to take a look at it and decide whether or not we want to make the change," said David Argall, State Senator 29 (R).

Comment bubble

Some critics of the bill say an open system would allow for melding between opposing parties. When the bill was introduced last year, it passed through the Senate but not the House. The next step would be to reintroduce the bill to the floor of the senate.

Loading ...