I am one of the 2.4 million independent voters in New Jersey. Independents outnumber both the Democrats and the Republicans here, yet we are excluded from the primaries and locked out of the most important electoral decisions in our state. That means a whopping 40% of NJ voters are effectively disenfranchised.
Political scientists say that we are just “leaners”; closeted Democrats and Republicans. In truth, we are people of all stripes who want to vote for the best candidates and policies, regardless of party label. We elected President Obama, President Trump and even Senator Menendez. Over the summer, the largest survey of independent voters nationally was conducted. I helped to coordinate the survey in NJ where 83% said they wanted to see the primaries open to independents without requiring us to affiliate with a political party and 87% believed the debates should be nonpartisan. Over 80% are unhappy our tax dollars are being spent to administer elections that exclude us.
Things don’t have to remain this way. The Supreme Court has established the Democratic and Republican Parties’ right to open their primaries to independent voters. A national organization, Independent Voting, is leading the effort to open the 2020 presidential primaries to independents. It is estimated that in 2016, over 25 million voters were excluded because the primaries were closed to independents in their state.
As part of this effort, New Jersey Independent Voters (“NJIV”) has reached out to Democratic Party Chair John Currie to discuss this matter. We will be reaching out to Republican Chair Doug Steinhardt and other leaders in New Jersey. Our effort to bring all of New Jersey citizens into the voting booth and political decision making in our state is open to all readers who want our democracy to include all citizens of voting age.