Should Registered Independents Be Allowed to Vote in Primaries?
In something of an ironic move, voters who are registered independents are banding together -- to protest Florida's closed primary system, which allows registered Republicans to pick a Republican candidate and Democrats to pick a Democratic candidate but leaves registered independents out of the game.
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Independents say this is not fair; since all taxpayers pay for elections, all of them should be able to vote. Informational pickets are planned for Tuesday -- primary day -- in Orlando and Panama City.
Independents around the country are joining together under the umbrella of IndependentVoting.org.
Steve Hough, who's active with the Tampa chapter, describes himself as "fiscally conservative but socially liberal" -- so he identifies with some Republican ideas and some Democratic ones.
He says he's bothered by voter apathy and low turnout. "There are 2.7 million NPA [No Party Affiliation] voters in Florida who be anxious to vote in primary elections," he says. "That'd be one way to increase voter turnout. What that would do, is by increasing turnout, you'd increase the number of voters that candidates have to reach out to." With the system as it stands, candidates are forced into "pandering to extreme elements of their base," Hough says. "When you get to the general election, you have to pick from the lesser of two evils, to be cliché about it."
If he were permitted to vote in this year's primary, he says, he'd pick Nan Rich as the Democratic candidate for governor. For the general election, he'll go with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie. Hough is a 60-year-old retired accountant.
In Florida, Hough says, "Our goal is, in 2016, to have a petition drive between now and then to get this on the ballot -- to propose a constitutional amendment" that would change the primary process.
In addition to the governor's race, Tuesday's primary election will determine candidates for Congress, for attorney general, for state reps, for the Broward School Board, for county commission, and for the city commission in Margate. Several judges' races are also on the ballot. Click here to see the candidates.