Last month, 7.7 percent of New Jersey voters went to the polls to vote in party primaries that were, for the most part, noncompetitive. That was hailed as an increase from the 3 percent that voted four years ago.
Americans are deeply concerned about our country. Just look at the level of volunteering and charitable giving in New Jersey and nationally. We care what happens. So why is voter participation so low? Not apathy. It’s a failed political system that lacks transparency, is divisive, controlled by party insiders and overly reliant on campaign contributions.
We represent the 2.4 million independent voters that were locked out of the primaries. There are more voters registered as unaffiliated in NJ than in either of the major political parties. It’s hypocritical to bemoan participation rates when you exclude 40 percent of the registered voters in the state.
As leaders of New Jersey Independent Voters (Sue Davies) and No Labels New Jersey (Steve Barratt), we are advocating for the New Jersey Democratic and Republican parties to open the 2020 presidential primaries to all New Jersey independents.
Independents across our state want to participate in the presidential primary process without having to compromise their independence. Our tax dollars pay for these elections and we deserve to be heard. The parties have the opportunity to broaden the conversation and participation in 2020. It is time for a democracy experiment.