Opinions: Presidential Primary Pestilence

Austin W Belet, Opinions Editor

Today is the final day to get registered to vote in the Democratic primary. 

For those who want to vote for a Republican or Democratic candidate, you need to make sure TODAY to register for the party of your pick.

In Florida, we have what are called “Closed Primaries,” what that means for those who are registered as Independent or NPA is that you will not be able to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary.

With 28% of Florida’s electorate being Independent or NPA, it is no surprise that a lot of people are irritated with the closed primary system. Suck it up.

We don’t ask our highschool football teams to elect our high school baseball teams captains- in the same vein we shouldn’t be allowing those who do not embody the values of the respective parties to choose their nominees. If our voter registration system still worked strictly by paper, I could understand the frustration. However, we are completely able to register to vote, change our address, and change our party online. It is an easy process and there are people who willingly switch parties at will to support the candidate who they support most. 

Yes, the argument could be made that by opening the primary we then allow people who otherwise don’t have a say in the candidate get the chance to have their vote heard- but yet again I point out that it isn’t difficult to change your registration. Even still, NPA and Independents get a say in who represents them. The whole point of the general election is to allow everyone the chance to vote for the candidate they like the most. 

The bigger issue is the state of Florida not allowing same day registration; by removing the opportunity to change your mind at the poll we remove the choice from voters to pick their favorite candidate. We force people to decide a month away from the election, and even then there are a lot of voters who still haven’t made a decision. 

The main problem with the closed primary, and I am not a stranger to this, is that it helps to perpetuate a two-party system in a way that continues to contribute to partisanship and hyper-politicization. In reality, perhaps the best way to tackle this issue is to provide ranked-choice voting rather than one-person/one-vote. Ranked-choice, a system where we decide our favorite to least favorite candidates, would allow everyone to choose the best people on the ticket for the position they are interested in. By requiring a candidate to hit a certain threshold of votes with this method, we guarantee the wide appeal.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality we live in. We still have a one-person/one-vote system and primaries exist. A jungle (or open) primary does not resolve this issue, it simply allows people who already have opinions on candidates to pick team captains without the investment the rest of the team has. 

By closing the primary we allow the people who are committed to their cause to continue to select who best represents their values. Allowing NPA and Independent voters to influence the decisions of registered members of the parties taints the platform of the parties. The reason parties exist is to allow voters a general understanding of what a candidate stands for. If someone votes for a Republican they should generally be able to expect they support lowered taxes, smaller government, and a greater emphasis on defense. If someone votes for a Democrat they can generally expect a candidate who supports social safety nets, public investment, and social equality. 

Regardless of how mad this makes you, the system is built this way right this second and it does not change the fact that if you want to cast a vote on March 17th you need to find your party. You don’t need to stay with them -you don’t even have to like them that much- but you do need to pick your team.

Go to Register to Vote Florida today to get ready for the primary.


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