Letter: Independent voters

Independent voters are coming together in Massachusetts to play a role in the mid-term elections, but it’s not the role we are usually cast in by the media as “swing voters.” Instead, on primary day, Sept. 9, we’ll be working to be visible at a time when we are most invisible.

Primary elections are a critical juncture in the democratic process. They are often the most competitive. But in Massachusetts, independents are forced to select a party ballot and unable to split their ticket and vote for the best candidate, not the party, as they prefer.

This is the independent’s plight: We are first-class taxpayers when it comes to funding the administration of elections — but second-class voters. Do you think this is fair given the Democratic and Republican parties are private entities?

A recent Gallup poll shows 42 percent of Americans identify as independent and in Massachusetts it’s even higher at 52 percent, making the issue all the more urgent as a large and growing segment of the electorate is marginalized in its voting powers by partisan primary systems.

Massachusetts independents support alternative approaches to the current system of private party primaries. In a Top Two nonpartisan primary, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are on a single ballot and all voters vote on this ballot. (Boston’s recent mayoral election was an example of a Top Two nonpartisan primary). The top two vote-getters go to the general election. In California, such a system has resulted in more competitive elections, less legislative gridlock and candidates being more attentive to their entire constituent base.

On primary day, Massachusetts independents will be making ourselves seen and heard in new ways. We will be holding informational pickets at polling places, calling on state legislators, writing letters, getting signatures and bringing attention to this flaw in our elections process.

A change is clearly needed — so that the voices of millions of independent voters who do not now have full voting rights can be heard. We hope to lead the way to a government less hampered by partisanship and more able to move ahead with the business of our country.

EVELYN DOUGHERTY

Massachusetts Coalition of Independent Voters

Jamaica Plain

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