Open Primary Bill Advances Out of Senate Government Committee
Onward with open primaries?
Yesterday, the state Senate Government Committee voted to support open primary legislation sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scaranti (R-Jefferson), by a 9-2 vote.
SB300 aims to allow the approximate 785,000 plus unaffiliated voters to participate in the Pennsylvania primaries. Advocates for the legislation have said the bill will increase voter turnout in the primaries, while garnering “moderation” in the primary process. The AP reports that the number of independent voters have gone up 75% in the previous eight years in Pennsylvania.
State Sens. Pat Stenafo (R-Fayette) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) were the two dissenting votes in the committee. Opponents of the legislation don’t believe that this will increase voter turnout and think it encourages people from other parties to choose their party’s candidate.
While the bill received bipartisan support in the committee, some who support the legislation think that it doesn’t go far enough to spur engagement in the primary process.
PennLive reports that state Sen. Katie Muth (D-Montgomery) said she wants to offer an amendment to the bill that would open the primaries up to voters of third parties, not just unaffiliated voters.
The bill advancing with votes from both Democrats and Republicans on the committee doesn’t assure it will become law in Pennsylvania.
According to the PLSReporter, House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said earlier this year he would not consider the bill and believes the bill would open up the chances for people to “deliberately switch parties to create chaos.”
The State Senate Government Committee also approved legislation advancing other election reform bills dealing with absentee voting, straight ticket party voting, and more.