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Bill proposes open primaries in Nevada

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 4:46 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Here in Nevada the primary season is closed. That means unless you are a registered Democrat or Republican you cannot participate in the process.

Instead, non-partisan voters cast their ballot in the general election after candidates from the two parties are selected through the primary process.

“So I think assuming the outcome is going to be, is dangerous,” says Senator Ben Kieckhefer, representing District 16. “I think what we should be thinking about is the process and make sure we are doing things, that reflect what the people want out of their government and giving more people a voice in that is ultimately the goal,” he says.

Senator Kieckhefer has introduced Senate Bill 121 to change the way primaries are conducted in Nevada. His bill calls for an open primary in our state.

If passed, it means all registered voters could cast a ballot during the primary elections. In the end it may mean two candidates from the same party may appear on the ballot in the general election.

But, according to political science professor Fred Lokken, it will all mean more participation in the elections process.

“It does promote better turnout,” says Lokken a political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College. “It does promote I think better awareness. And it does reach out to the critical number of independent non-partisan who are right now completely disconnected from that process,” he says.

Other states like California, Washington and Wisconsin have open primaries. Studies show these primaries do have more voter participation.

It makes sense when you consider 30% of voters don’t affiliate themselves with the two major political parties. And that number analysts say is only getting larger.

What are the chances of SB 121 becoming law? Some have pointed out, the system has gotten lawmakers where they are now, why change it.

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