Gerrymandering and partisan self-sorting have created "safe seats," in which the winner of the primary is all but guaranteed to win the general.
In other words, the primary election is the only election that matters. Yet these taxpayer-funded primaries currently lock out more than 11 million individuals from voting, and as a result, encourage only the most partisan, more extreme partisan voters to participate.
With primary turnout below 20%, the outcome is elections where only the most partisan and dogmatic candidates can win.
Party primaries are a driving reason why elected representatives refuse to work across the aisle, as they fear getting "primaried” by someone to their ideological extreme in the next election. By at least allowing independent voters to participate in these elections — and ideally replacing partisan primaries with nonpartisan primaries — we can improve the incentives representatives have to represent all of the voters.
16 states have fully open primaries
3 states have nonpartisan primaries
10 states bar unaffiliated voters from the entire primary process
For more details about your state's primary process, visit our partners at OpenPrimaries
An innovative effort in Wisconsin would establish “Final Five Voting” for all federal elections. Final Five Voting combines two powerful electoral reforms: top-five nonpartisan primaries with ranked choice voting general elections.