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The Fahey Q&A with two state legislators pushing to open Maine's primaries

Since organizing the Voters Not Politicians 2018 ballot initiative that put citizens in charge of drawing Michigan's legislative maps, Fahey has been the founding executive director of The People, which is forming statewide networks to promote government accountability. She regularly interviews colleagues in the world of democracy reform for our Opinion section.

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Big Picture

Report: Few Americans have a say in most congressional elections

Despite record-high turnout in last year's general election, a new report found that a majority of congressional elections in 2020 were determined by only a small number of voters due to the widely used partisan primary system.

Unite America, which released "The Primary Problem" on Tuesday, found that just 10 percent of voters cast ballots in primaries that ultimately decided the winners of 83 percent of House seats. These "safe" seats are in districts that are reliably retained by the same party in nearly every election, so the real competition is not in the general election but in the primary.

The resulting problem, the report concludes, is high re-election rates for members of Congress, even though most voters don't feel adequately represented by their elected officials or approve of the job they are doing. Unite America's solution: Adopt open and nonpartisan primaries.

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Octavio Jones/Getty Images

When Floridians vote in primaries, only member of political parties may participate. Ashburn hopes to create change — there and across the country.

Why Gen Z needs to fight for the right to be both politically independent and potent

Ashburn is a high school junior in Broward County, Fla., and a founder of two nonprofits, Students for Open Primaries, which will be launched nationwide next week, and Bloom: Empowering the Military Teen. This piece was originally published by Independent Voter News.

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The legislation's sponsors were inspired by Spencer Cox's near-loss in the the 2020 Republican gubernatorial primary.

Open primaries? Republicans move to make Utah voting even more insular.

The movement to weaken the major parties' hold on primaries, the de facto elections in much of this politically polarized nation, has been dealt a fresh setback in Utah.

Gov. Spencer Cox is expected to sign legislation, which won final passage this week from his fellow Republicans in dominant control of the Legislature, to prevent Utahns from switching parties within three months of a primary.

The stated goal is to sharply limit "party raiding" by Democrats interested in setting the shade of red for the state's map by voting in GOP primaries — assuming their motivation will only be disrupting the opposing party's genuine desires, not shaping the state's power structure. But good-government advocates argue primaries should be open to all, on the theory that governments will be more consensus-driven and productive if candidates have to appeal to people of all stripes in their nominating campaigns, not just their bases on the hard left or hard right.

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