Most state and federal primary elections in the U.S. are divided up by political party, and many are only open to voters who are members of that party. These closed primaries have been a long-standing practice, aiming to ensure that the party's members have a decisive say in selecting their candidates for general elections. However, closed primaries have also faced criticism for their exclusionary nature, limiting the participation of independent voters and members of third parties.
In another ironic twist, that most important of elections is not open to all Philadelphians. If you consider yourself a third-party or an independent voter, you are left out of the process. Pennsylvania excludes over a million voters from participating in its partisan primaries, something advocates hope could change this year. The exclusion of such a significant number of voters raises questions about the democratic legitimacy of primary elections and the need to reform the system.
The closed primary system has its defenders, who argue that it helps maintain party integrity and ensures that candidates truly represent the party's values and principles. Those who support closed primaries argue that members of a political party should have the final say in selecting their party's candidates. They believe that opening up the primaries to non-party members could dilute the party's ideology and lead to candidates who do not truly reflect the party's core values.