Traditionally, independent voters are typecast by the media as “swing voters,” but this year, we’ll be working on primary election day (June 24) to be visible at a time when we are most invisible.
Primary elections play a pivotal role in the democratic process and are often the most competitive. But in Utah, independents (44 percent of the electorate) are forced to affiliate with a party or accept an abridged ballot—one largely devoid of candidates—for the simple reason that we would not join a pre-approved political organization. When phrased in these raw terms, the anti-democratic nature of our political structures is hard to miss. The right to freedom of association naturally encompasses freedom from compulsory association!
This is the plight of the independent: we’re first-class taxpayers when funding the administration of elections, but treated as second-class voters at the polls. The issue is increasingly urgent as a large and growing segment of the electorate is marginalized in its voting powers by partisan primary systems.
Utah independents are organizing support for non-partisan reforms to the current broken system of private party primaries. For example, in a Top-Two nonpartisan open primary, all candidates—regardless of party affiliation—appear on a single ballot made available to all voters. The top two vote-getters go on to the general election. In California, such a system has resulted in more competitive elections, less legislative gridlock and candidates’ attentiveness to their entire constituent base.
On June 24, Utah independents will be making ourselves seen and heard in new ways. We will be holding an informational picket that evening at Trolley Square, writing letters, petitioning and bringing attention to the flaws in our election process. We hope to lead the way to a government that’s less hampered by partisanship and more able to move ahead with the business of our state and country.
While the political parties are moving to make nearly all public positions subject to partisan elections (and party control), we are moving to make all elections non-partisan and fair with equal access for all voters.
Join us in removing the partisan barriers to a more perfect union.
President, Utah League of Independent Voters