Terms Glossary

Good Party's Terms Glossary is a list of definitions of words from the political and elections world. These terms are from an independent's perspective with an eye toward reform. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, send it to ask@goodparty.org.

Open Primary

An open primary is a type of primary election in which any registered voter can participate, regardless of their political party affiliation. This means that voters do not have to be a member of a specific party to vote in that party's primary. Open primaries have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to increase voter participation and reduce the influence of party insiders.

In the United States, open primaries are currently used in several states, including California, Washington, and Louisiana. For example, in California, the top two candidates from the primary election, regardless of party, move on to the general election. This has led to an increase in the number of independent and third-party candidates appearing on the general election ballot.

Open primaries have been shown to increase voter turnout, as well as produce more moderate candidates. In a study by FairVote, states that used open primaries had an average voter turnout of 28%, compared to 19% for states with closed primaries. Additionally, candidates in open primary states are more likely to appeal to a wider range of voters, rather than just their party base.

One of the key benefits of open primaries is that they give more power to the voters, rather than party insiders. With open primaries, all registered voters have a say in who appears on the general election ballot, regardless of their party affiliation. This can lead to a more representative government, as well as more competitive elections.

In summary, open primary is a way of conducting primary elections where all registered voters, regardless of political affiliation, can participate. It is used in several states in the US and has been shown to increase voter turnout and produce more moderate candidates. It gives more power to the voters and can lead to more representative government and more competitive elections.