Today, I and many other citizens of Pennsylvania will be denied the right to vote. It is not because we are in prison or non-citizens. It is because we are registered Independents or not affiliated with a political party. According to the organization Independent Pennsylvanians, nearly a million citizens in Pennsylvania are registered Independents or non-affiliated. That’s a lot of people who are excluded from the voting process. The term for this is a closed primary.
Pennsylvania is one of 18 states that have closed primaries. That is, you can only vote for candidates who are members of your party. In an open primary, you can vote for any candidate regardless of the party affiliation. You can vote for the candidate that best represents your political ideals. Alabama and Mississippi have open primaries. Most Pennsylvanians probably don’t think of their state as being more restrictive than those two states, but it is. These are states that at one time instituted poll taxes and literacy tests to hamper minorities and the poor from voting, thus, protecting the powers that be.
I believe this system is used primarily to protect the major parties’ hold on power. If requiring a photo ID to vote is considered a hindrance to vote, surely a closed primary constricts the voting population. Let us have a system that does not restrict a citizen’s right to vote.