A short-handed state Supreme Court, with two of seven justices gone to the federal bench, heard arguments this week on whether voters can loosen the shackles of partisanship and create open primary elections. All Voters Vote is pushing a 2020 ballot initiative to tear down a century-old closed primary system and replace it with one that looks like the Florida of today.
The justices should step aside and let voters push the reset button on democracy.
Florida is the largest of 12 states clinging to an archaic system in which only Republican and Democratic voters can nominate candidates for office. This is the smoke-filled room dressed up as a polling place to trick people into thinking it’s real democracy. It isn’t.
In an open primary, all voters, regardless of party, would nominate major-party candidates for governor, Cabinet and Legislature, including nearly 4 million voters registered as no party affiliation (NPA). Candidates would be forced to broaden their appeal to independents, a more representative audience. That would curb the influence of the most extreme voices in both parties and the narrow-minded lobbies that bankroll campaigns.