Defending Open Primaries

There has been a growing effort by partisan legislators – -largely but not exclusively in the South- to close their state’s primaries. The rights of millions of voters to vote in the first round of elections is critical and we’re fighting to protect them. 

Many of these states have been heavily gerrymandered and are essentially one-party states. Half of general election races regularly see candidates running unopposed, with less than ten percent of races deemed competitive. Primary elections in these states are often the only meaningful elections. 

Almost every one of these states also utilize nonpartisan voter registration in concert with semi-open primaries. This system allows all voters-not just independents-to choose a party ballot. It is particularly vulnerable, therefore, to false partisan claims of “cross over” voting that offer cover for the real goal, which is conserving power. Their math is simple: closed primaries give these extremists in the legislature-not the voters– more control over the election process.

Since 2015, Open Primaries has been the only organization in the country organizing, supporting and leading state-based campaigns to defeat this legislation. To date, no bill to close the primaries has been successfully passed on our watch.

During the 2023 legislative calendar alone, there were “close the primaries” legislative efforts in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.  

We defeated all 10 bills and protected the voting rights of 22 million voters in the process.

Open Primaries will continue to lead this work. And we will inspire others to lead. We don’t just want to defeat these bills. We want to prevent them from being introduced again. And we want to continue to build strong, diverse coalitions that can take the lead in not simply defending the status quo, but advancing improvements that give voters more choice and power.

To learn more about the fight to protect open primaries: 

Read our 2023 After Action Campaign Report

To learn whether there is an effort to close the primaries in your state and join the fight email:

Sign-up as a Supporter