Conklin: It’s time to let independent voters participate in primary elections

HARRISBURG, March 30 – In an effort to be more inclusive and ensure the constitutional rights of all Pennsylvanians, state Rep. Scott Conklin announced he will soon introduce legislation that would allow voters who are not registered to take part in primary elections.

Conklin, D-Centre, said while there have been several proposals over the years to allow these voters to participate in primary elections, most have only raised legal questions and haven’t led to any substantive changes.

“Voting is a constitutional right, one that should not be tainted by larger interests that seek to shut out voters who are not registered as a Democrat or Republican,” said Conklin. “We know that during municipal elections, candidates often run on both tickets during the primary because of smaller numbers of voters they need to contact for support. What ends up occurring is that members of both parties are often voting for the same candidate during a primary as they would during the general election. That means independent voters are only given one choice in the general election unless there is a write-in candidate. We must give the same freedom of choice to independent voters that both Republican and Democratic voters already enjoy during municipal elections.”

Conklin said his pending legislation is part of the House Democrats’ “Defending Democracy” platform, which is focused on streamlining voting processes, maintaining voting security, and ensuring each Pennsylvanian has a guaranteed and protected right to vote without interference.

He introduced a similar bill during the 2019-20 legislative session.