Readers Write: Closed primaries are unfair to voters

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Readers Write: Closed primaries are unfair to voters

It came as a real eye-opener to me that New York is one of only 15 states with closed primaries. 

In a closed primary, a voter can only vote for a candidate in his registered party affiliation on primary day.  As such, it seems obvious to me that Independent voters, non-party-affiliated voters, and other-party voters may be ‘locked out’ of expressing their possible choices in a given primary election. 

Ultimately, I would like to believe that each voter is an independent thinker and, that no party should hold sway over an individual’s vote on Primary Day.

 To me, there is something very wrong when either major party — Democratic or Republican — feels the need to force its affiliated-voters to vote only for someone listed in a specific party’s choice of candidates on Primary Day.  

What if a registered Republican is unhappy with the choice of Republican candidates on a Primary Day’s ballot?   What if a registered Democrat is unhappy with the choice of Democratic candidates on a Primary Day’s ballot? 

Why should either voter be forced to vote only for candidates listed within his registered party on Primary Day? 

In my opinion, closed primaries are patently unfair. 

Just because a voter agrees with some policies of one party, it should not be assumed any party has a ‘lock’ on that voter’s right to choose whom he believes is the best candidate from the total pool of both major parties on any given Primary Day. 

Open Primaries allow independents and other-party voters to participate.  In a country where we value freedoms, it is difficult to understand how a voter’s freedom of choice ever was curtailed by the imposition of Closed Primaries in any state…..let alone in New York.

To add insult to injury, it came to my attention that, if a voter wants to change his party affiliation in February, 2018, he would have to file a form with the Board of Elections and wait until the Fall, 2019 to vote in his new party of choice on Primary Day. Unbelievable!

Is it fair to have to wait over 1.5 years to change one’s party affiliation status in order to be effective on Primary Day? 

It sure seems that, in New York State, each major political party wants to LOCK each of its affiliated voters into ONLY voting for his specific, registered party’s offered choices on Primary Day.   Are both major parties fearful that each’s candidates may not be suitable to its affiliates? 

In my opinion, arguments against Open Primaries alleging they permit non-members of a political party to choose that party’s candidate and that it is unfair to legitimate members of a political party are invalid. 

The main consideration that should be given to any voter is that he should be able to vote in any manner he chooses whether he is a registered Republican, registered Democrat, registered Independent, registered other party, or a non-affiliated voter.

It seems obvious to me that our freedom of choice to vote in a Primary Day election is not free at all if we are forced to vote within a specific, registered party.  

I would like to believe that each voter is a critically-thinking citizen who will vote for whomever he believes would best serve our public needs regardless of party affiliation.

Although it is possible that an Open Primary could allow members of one major party to try to imbalance voting ‘in favor of’ or ‘against’ the other major party, it is a highly unlikely scenario. 

In a country founded upon embraced freedoms, I believe no party has the right to assume any voter’s motivation for casting a specific vote.  I believe no party has the right to ‘lock in’ any affiliated voter’s vote.

I believe it is time for New York State to dispose of closed primaries, as they are inherently unfair. 

I believe it is time for the elimination of the requirement to declare a major party affiliation to vote in a Primary Day election.  I believe such a requirement is an infringement on each citizen’s basic freedoms especially upon our freedom to choose elected public servants independently.

New York State should join the other  35 open primary states as soon as possible….or else, major political parties in our state will continue to hold sway over our residents’ right to choose a Primary Day candidate independently.  Is that fair?

Kathy Rittel

East Williston

 

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