Conklin: House State Government Committee will consider legislation to create open state primaries

Bills would give unaffiliated voters a say

HARRISBURG, Oct. 11 – The PA House State Government Committee will soon consider legislation to establish open primary elections in Pennsylvania, Majority Chairman Scott Conklin, D-Centre, announced today.

Conklin said H.B. 979, sponsored by state Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and H.B. 976, sponsored by state Rep. Marla Brown, R-Lawrence, would do away with Pennsylvania’s system of closed primaries – which exclude voters who are registered as unaffiliated with a political party – and establish open primaries that permit unaffiliated voters to participate.

“There are as many as one million unaffiliated voters in Pennsylvania, and their numbers have been increasing,” Conklin said. “These voters pay taxes and help fund our electoral system, yet they’re excluded from key local, state and federal primary contests.

“Our laws should be framed in a way to encourage broad participation at the ballot box, not to discourage it. Opening up our primary elections, as many other states have done, would ensure that this large and growing segment of our population has a say in who represents them.”

Solomon said, “We have the opportunity to give a voice to over a million Pennsylvanians. Opening our primary elections will give people a stake in our democracy, ensuring that all voices, regardless of party, have the opportunity to help shape our state's future.”

Brown added, “I appreciate the committee’s consideration and look forward to finding the best outcome for all registered voters in PA.”

Conklin said the committee is scheduled to consider the bills when it next meets at
9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17.