It is really interesting to watch as legal challenges to closed primaries begin to get traction… and to read the tortured explanations from elected officials about how and why they oppose equal voting rights for independents.
The EndPartisanship.org coalition (which, full disclosure, I am doing some consulting for) is helping to push for all New Jersey voters to have an equal and meaningful vote in every election. A Motion to Dismiss their suit from the New Jersey AG/Secretary of State essentially argues that private political parties have the right to exclude nonaffiliated/independent voters from participating in private primary elections — regardless that most elections are decided in primaries AND that public taxpayers are paying for those private activities. The right of private parties to require affiliation/membership makes sense… as long as their activities are privately conducted. This seemed fine when political parties their held private and privately financed primary conventions (which came with their own set of exclusionary problems) AND most voters belonged to one majority party or another.
But now that 42% of all NJ voters are registered independent, wish to continue exercising their right to NOT join a party and their taxes are going to publicly support the activities of the very private organizations, more and more voters (and soon, courts) are finding that something is amiss.
Article from IVN.us : Newark, New Jersey – On Friday, May 9, 2014, New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman, on behalf of the secretary of state’s office, filed a motion to dismiss a complaint challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s primary election system. Secretary of State Kim Guadagno argues that U.S. citizens in New Jersey do not have a right to vote in primary elections, but political parties have a right to use taxpayer dollars to fund them.
So, clearly there are many more months and filings to come. But state AG’s and Secretary of States had better start working on not just their legal briefs, but their political explanations to the millions of independent voters across the country who are being systematically denied an equal and meaningful voice in choosing their representatives.