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Push on for bipartisan primary voting in Fla.

LEE COUNTY, FL – A bipartisan group of activists is pushing for a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to vote for Republicans or Democrats no matter how you’re registered to vote in Florida.


Right now, more people are registering as “no party affiliates” than Republicans and Democrats combined.

Those voters aren’t getting a chance to vote in any Florida primary election.

There is a big push to change that to allow everyone to vote and the top two vote-getters would face off in the general election.

“I think basically people are fed up,” said Jerry Taylor of Fort Myers.

A growing number of voters feel like Taylor.  They don’t want to be affiliated with either party.

“The political system needs a little more integrity,” he said.

Feelings like his are reasons why 55 percent of new voters in Florida are registering as no party affiliates.

Miami Attorney Gene Stearns is backing the movement and said getting elected should be like a job interview.

“The employer is becoming a smaller and smaller group of people with more and more extreme agendas. With this proposal the employer becomes everybody,” said Stearns.

Political Science Professor Dr. Laura Weir believes open elections are what the founding fathers wanted.

“George Washington left office and he wrote a long letter to the members of congress and said I warn you against instituting political parties, because look at how bad England is and this was hundreds of years ago,” explained Weir.

She predicts party leaders will be the ones to fight against open primaries.

“The Republican Party and Democratic Party are both worried about this because they’re going to be losing control that they’ve had over who gets supported,” predicts Weir.

Meanwhile, Lee County Republican Party Chairman Johnathan Martin isn’t supporting an open primary for one main reason.

“It’s going to hurt the candidates who might have good ideas but have less funding,” said Martin.

Martin said he would rather see more people get involved in their party and make changes from the inside.

The majority of voters who spoke with NBC2 said they support opening up the primary elections.

“I think it’s an excellent idea. I think it’s fair,” said Holly Bower-Winhorse.

“I think it would be good, because it’s not fair now,” said Ruth Fotovat of Fort Myers.

The measure, if passed, would allow all registered voters to vote in primaries regardless of how they’re registered.

If the measure makes it to the ballot in 2016, it would have to be approved by 60 percent of voters and it would go into effect in the 2018 election.

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