Sunday, May 10, 2009

Voting in the Primaries

Originally Posted in Common Threads Blog
Centre Daily Times, April 12, 2009

In Pennsylvania, both political parties do not allow independents to vote in the primaries, which are funded by taxpayer money.

San Francisco Chronicle Political Writer, John Wildermuth’s Blog on March 7, 2007, Dems Welcome Independent Voters, discusses the situation in CA where Democrats allow independents to vote in their primaries, but Republicans don’t. In West Virginia, Republicans allow independents to vote in their primaries, but Democrats do not. He adds that in another 21 states, including Washington, Idaho, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and Virginia – voters do not register by party, but vote whatever party’s ballot they choose on election day.

Both parties surely have strategic reasons to disallow unaffiliated, Independent voters from their primaries. However, those reasons may not always safeguard the best interests of the public.

My husband and I feel that the primaries are important this year, especially in the light of the State College Area School District Board elections. And so we decided it was time to switch our “non-affiliated” Independent status to an affiliated one.
On calling the Centre County Voter Registration and Elections office in Bellefonte, we found out that the process was fairly simple – only it had to be done before April 16, 2007.

I miss the feeling of being unaffiliated – the feeling that was I truly “independent,” casting my vote on the merits of each candidate or issue.
But for now, I am rejoicing in my ability to vote in my first primary.

And in the meantime, I am wondering if either party is considering any changes in rules in PA – that would make independents eligible to vote in the primaries?

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