From Tom Barnes
HARRISBURG -- There are more than one million "independent’’ voters in the state, meaning they are not registered as either a Democrat or a Republican.
That means they can’t vote in the primaries of the two major parties, which are held in May or sometimes April. That leaves independents out of a lot of important political choices, says Rep. Gene DePasquale, D-York.
He has a bill, House Bill 1672, that would change things, allowing independents, as well as members of third parties, to select either the Democratic or Republican party primary to take part in.
In cities such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, most candidates are Democratic, so choosing the Democratic candidates in the spring is often tantamount to electing a person in November. In rural areas, which are often Republican, things work just the opposite, with GOP spring primaries being more important than the general election.
"Our current system limits thousands of voters who don’t affiliate themselves with either Republican or Democratic ideals,’’ said Mr. DePasquale, who is the grandson of former Pittsburgh Councilman Jeep DePasquale. "This bill aims to open the doors so that all of Pennsylvania’s voters can be a part of determining their candidates in the primary election in addition to the general.’’
He said 12 states now have open primaries.