Voters To Demand Open Primaries Tomorrow At Florida Hearing

Jeremy Gruber
Senior Vice President
[email protected]
(609) 610-1602

Voters To Demand Open Primaries Tomorrow At Florida Hearing

Constitution Revision Commission Becomes Focal Point for Reform

Miami, FL – October 3, 2017 – The Florida Constitution Revision Commission Ethics and Elections Committee begins their first day of deliberations tomorrow and open primaries activists will be in attendance to testify and present over 6,000 signatures from voters across the state in support of a submission demanding the reform of the state’s outdated and exclusionary primary system.

Florida’s current election system bars 3.4 million independent voters – well over a quarter of registered voters in the state -- from casting their votes in primary elections. A recent poll found broad support for reforming the state’s primary elections, with 73% of Floridians-including supermajorities of Republican, Democrat and independent voters-supporting having the Constitution Revision Commission put an open primaries initiative before the voters.

In public hearings earlier this year, scores of Floridians publicly shared their experiences of being locked out of voting and encouraged the Commissioners to put a primary reform measure on the ballot. Their testimony was as diverse as it was heartfelt. For example, Key West resident Giancarlo Espinosa drove almost 200 miles to testify at the Miami hearing in April where he declared: “We need to stop preventing citizens of the United States of America from participating in the political process.”

This unprecedented level of support for election reform comes in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Primaries, which drew claims of a “rigged” process and saw 26 million independent voters across the country, including 3.4 million Floridians, locked out of the first round of elections. Florida voters paid over $13 million dollars in 2016 alone for closed, partisan primaries according to a recent analysis.

A broad and diverse coalition, led by Florida-based reform groups Progress for All and Florida Fair and Open Primaries has been amplifying the call for primary reform statewide.

"Since the first hearing of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission this past spring, one thing has become very evident: the people of Florida want an open primary system. So many people testified. So many journalists and editorial boards supported us. And the polls back up what the people have been saying: it’s time for a change. The momentum for reform is building. Hopefully, the Commissioners are listening."

–Steve Hough, Southport, Director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries

"Floridians are confronted by a wide range of difficult issues related to social justice, public education, the environment, and criminal justice reform. Nobody should be excluded from the public deliberations and debates on these and many other issues. That's why we need structural reforms like open primaries. We call on the Constitutional Revision Commission to listen to the people of Florida and place an open primary referendum on the state ballot in 2018."

- Tim Canova, Hollywood, Chair of Progress for All

“Independent voters in Florida are surging. Why? People hate the bickering and the endless negative politics of both parties. But our primary system makes independents second class voters. The job of the Constitution Revision Commission is to lead an open and transparent process to look at how we can improve and modernize our constitution. One thing has become transparently clear after six months of public hearings, and that is the voters of Florida are ready for an open primary system.”

- Andrew Huston, Gainesville Florida open primaries activist

"The turmoil and partisanship in the DC bubble is the result of keeping the people out, not too much democracy. What's so exciting about the CRC hearings is that Democrats, Republicans, and especially independents from all across Florida are stepping up to the mic and saying we know how to move Florida and the country forward. Let everyone vote for whomever they want! Get the gatekeepers out of the way and let the people in! That's a powerful statement to make about the need to democratize the process in the face of gridlock, partisanship, polarization, and scandal."

-John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries

Available for Interview
Tim Canova, Chair of Progress for All (based in Hollywood, FL.)
Steve Hough, Director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries (based in Southport, FL.)
Andrew Huston, Florida Open Primaries activist (based in Gainesville, FL.)
John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries (based in New York City)
Giancarlo Espinosa, Florida open primaries activist (based in Key West, FL.)

Progress for All is a small-donor based grassroots political and community action group supporting progressive candidates and causes at the national, state, and local levels.

Florida Fair and Open Primaries (FFAOP) is a grassroots non-partisan, volunteer organization that supports adding a constitutional amendment to the ballot to change Florida primary elections from a closed system to a top two open primary system.

Open Primaries is a national, election reform organization working to enact open and nonpartisan primary systems, counter efforts to close primaries, educate voters, train and support spokespeople, and participate in the building of local, state and national coalitions.