Wyoming has a closed primary system – which means that in order to vote in a primary election, you must be registered with a political party.
Wyoming Rising knows that this system limits participation in our elections because most Wyoming candidates run as Republicans; people who are independent and those who are registered in other parties have few options in the State’s primary election. For example, if you voted as a Democrat or Independent in the Park County WY 2022 primary, you were unable to vote for any of the candidates for County offices. Unfortunately, many County positions are partisan (which means a candidate must register with a political Party before running for an office). With the majority of Park County voters registered as Republican, most candidates go with that party in order to have their names show up on the ballot.
Even these essential County jobs require a candidate to declare a Party affiliation:
- Clerk of District Court
- County Attorney
The state Republican Party often worries about RINOs (Republicans In Name Only), but what they don’t understand is that Wyomingites are interested in LOCAL issues. In order to participate in LOCAL elections where all the candidates run on the same ballot, voters have no choice but to register as Republican in order to choose our commissioners, sheriff, and even the coroner!
Why RINOS are the fastest growing segment.
As of September 1, 2023, Wyoming has 177,154 registered Republican voters and 39,463 with other affiliations (Libertarian, Democrat, undeclared, etc.). In 2020, there were 65,142 voters with other affiliations. * What does that mean? It means over 25,000 voters (so far) have realized that they need to be registered Republican in the 2024 election, even if they aren’t actually Republicans, just to have a say in their County primary election. These partisan primaries also decrease voter turnout! Out of our 446,379 eligible voters, only 40.8% of voters turned out for the 2022 primary *.
Wyoming Rising believes that open primaries would solve the problem of RINOs in the Republican Party. If primary elections were not partisan, all voters would have a voice and candidates from all points of view could run for office.
What are the benefits of changing our voting system to an open, non-partisan primary?
FAIRNESS: Independent voters — the fastest growing segment of the electorate — are excluded from voting in closed partisan primaries.
PUBLIC FUNDING: Primary elections are publicly funded and administered. No American should be required to join a political party in order to vote in a public election.
VOTER CHOICE: Voters want to be able to choose from among all the candidates. Closed partisan primaries don’t allow that.
BETTER OUTCOMES: Elected officials perform better when competition is increased and they are incentivized to listen to their entire constituencies, not just partisan primary voters.
Wyoming Rising proposes non partisan primaries as the solution to election participation.
Wyoming’s problem is a nationwide problem, and the nation realizes we need election reform.
As food for thought, please listen to this 5 minute podcast from NPR and let us know in the comments, what you think.