Primary Reform Picks Up Traction Ahead of May 21 Primary
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Primary Reform Picks Up Traction Ahead of May 21 Primary

May 20, 2019


Contacts: Micah Sims
Common Cause, Executive Director; 412-520-5115 c

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

New coalition, editorial boards and legislative leadership call for reform

HARRISBURG, PA – Calls for reforming Pennsylvania's primary system have continued to grow over the past year, with polls scheduled to open for another closed primary on Tuesday. More than 1.2 million Pennsylvanian voters will be ineligible to vote for candidates running in important municipal and judicial offices. And in communities across the Commonwealth where party registration has become increasingly lopsided, many of tomorrow’s top vote-getters will be essentially guaranteed to enter public office.

A new statewide coalition, Open Primaries PA, launched last month to support legislation in the General Assembly (SB 300 and HB 192) that would allow the state’s nearly 800,000 independent voters to choose a party primary to vote in. Senator Joe Scarnati, prime sponsor of SB 300, reiterated his support for advancing open primaries legislation last week: “Allowing more people the opportunity to have a voice in their representation is an important step toward ensuring democracy.”

Senator Scarnati’s push comes amid consistent calls by Pennsylvanians and editorial boards:

“It’s remarkable how primary reform has emerged quickly across the Commonwealth as a key issue to good governance,” said Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh. “Pennsylvanians seem to be realizing that our state is at a serious disadvantage if our government and politics remain stuck in the wrong century. We’re seeing this with redistricting reform and election modernization, both of which are being discussed in the Legislature. Opening the primaries to include independents is another critical reform to add to the docket.”

Citizen activists from Independent Pennsylvanians, a founding member of Open Primaries PA, will also be staging morning (8:00 to 10:00 a.m.) and evening (4:45 to 6:30 p.m.) events on Tuesday outside the Philadelphia offices of Fox 29, WHYY and the Philadelphia Inquirer.   Independent Pennsylvanians director Jennifer Bullock is leading the effort and can be reached  at 215-852-1718 (c).

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


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.

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