Open Primaries PA Launches Statewide Digital Campaign
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Open Primaries PA Launches Statewide Digital Campaign

April 28, 2020


Contact: David Thornburgh, President and CEO
Committee of Seventy; 215-439-0879 c

Open Primaries PA Launches Statewide Digital Campaign
Outreach to target more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians shut out of the June 2 primary

PENNSYLVANIA – April 28, 2020 – Open Primaries PA, a coalition of civic and business organizations committed to open and free elections in Pennsylvania that let all voters vote, is launching today an outreach campaign to the more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians who are registered unaffiliated or with a third-party who cannot vote for candidates in the June 2 primary. Due to the state’s closed primary system, instituted in the early 20th century, only Democrats and Republicans are allowed to participate in critical spring primary contests; all other voters must wait until the November general election to cast their ballots.

The new campaign consists of paid digital communications to independent voters across the commonwealth, with a special focus on veterans, many of whom refrain from partisan affiliation after a career of apolitical public service. According to the PEW Research Center, nearly half (49%) of all U.S. veterans and 44.5% of recent war veterans do not identify with a major party. The Facebook ad spots are brief, intended to highlight why voters should learn more about the issue as a major primary approaches:

  • Example ad spot 1: “I think they should be open to everybody. I mean, it’s a public election. Why not?”
  • Example ad spot 2: “It’s good for democracy. It’s good to know that your candidates can be chosen by you.”
  • Example ad spot 3: “Everyone should be able to decide who the leaders of their community and their country are.”

Voters reached through the online campaign and Open Primaries PA coalition partners will be encouraged to join the long-term effort for primary reform, which has become an increasingly high-profile issue as Americans grow frustrated with status quo politics.

“We’ve seen for years the consequences of worsening partisanship in electoral campaigns and in gridlocked legislatures,” stated David Thornburgh, President and CEO of Committee of Seventy, an Open Primaries PA member. “Especially at a time of state and national crisis, it’s imperative that our elections include every Pennsylvanian and incentivize compromise and problem-solving in government. Requiring that candidates campaign to the whole electorate rather than their partisan base will help us get there.”

The spring campaign also includes direct communications to the more than 500 candidates running for House and Senate seats in the General Assembly, highlighting this reform issue as an important one to speak to on the campaign trail. A landmark Senate bill that would allow more than 800,000 unaffiliated Pennsylvanians to vote in primary elections was approved by the chamber in 2019 with strong bipartisan support (42-8). This legislation, Senate Bill 300, is awaiting consideration by the House State Government Committee, along with a similar House bill (House Bill 192).

“The Senate’s historic endorsement of primary reform last year was a critical marker in the discussion around how our state’s elections need to change to foster a better, more collaborative politics,” said Thornburgh. “Further, the General Assembly’s emergency action to protect the primary election by postponing it from April 28 to June 2 could not have been a stronger demonstration of why these should be public elections where all voters vote – not closed, partisan contests paid for by taxpayers.”

Organizations of all types and citizens from across the commonwealth are encouraged to join the growing campaign for primary reform. Sign-up on or contact Patrick Christmas at for more information.


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. Learn more about the new coalition and why Pennsylvania’s closed primary system must change at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Business for America | Committee of Seventy | Common Cause Pennsylvania
Commonwealth Commonsense  | League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
Independent Pennsylvanians | Philly Set Go