FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Micah Sims
Common Cause, Executive Director
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Committee of Seventy, President and CEO
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OPEN PRIMARIES LEGISLATION APPROVED BY PENNSYLVANIA SENATE
Landmark Bill Will Move to the State House for Debate
HARRISBURG, PA – The State Senate approved with overwhelming bipartisan support today (42-8) a landmark bill that would allow 785,000 independent Pennsylvanians to vote in spring primary elections, a significant step forward in moving away from the Commonwealth’s closed primary system. The proposal, Senate Bill 300, was introduced by Senator Joe Scarnati earlier this year and would amend state election law to allow unaffiliated voters to choose a party primary -- Democratic or Republican -- in which they could vote for candidates. The bill was voted out of the Senate State Government Committee on June 18, also with bipartisan support.
“We’re thrilled to see the tremendous progress made on primary reform” said David Thornburgh, President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan better government advocate. “Our closed primaries were never fair to the voters who were shut out of these important elections, and the consequences of partisan bases gaining a disproportionate impact on who enters public office and their agendas has also been harmful to the effectiveness of government as a whole.”
The Committee of Seventy is one of several civic organizations that established Open Primaries PA, a nonpartisan coalition focused solely on reforming primary elections to ensure representative and accountable government. The other founding members include Common Cause PA, Commonwealth Commonsense, League of Women Voters of PA, Independent Pennsylvanians, and Philly Set Go. The coalition has noted the striking interest from Pennsylvanians in the issue, highlighting strong support from editorial boards across the state. The Commonwealth remains one of only nine states that still uses closed primary elections.
“Now all eyes are on the House,” said Thornburgh. “The Open Primaries PA coalition and our supporters look forward to engaging in a constructive debate around the merits of the primary reform with representatives across the state and with leadership.”
Open Primaries PA is a growing coalition of civic and business organizations committed to open and free elections in Pennsylvania that lead to responsive and accountable government.