Editorial: Independent voters not invited to primary party


Lexi Browning

Supporters cheer as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ delivers a speech during the “A Future to Believe In” rally on Tuesday, April 26 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W.Va. The assembly attracted more than 6,000 supporters.

Voters of the Republican, Democrat and Independent parties will rush to the polls in West Virginia starting today. Early voting in the state will allow voters to cast their ballots until May 7 no matter what political party they claim.

But what if voters were prohibited from voting based solely on their political beliefs? That would be Archaic and painfully ironic- yet in about a dozen states that is still the case.

States like New York are unlike West Virginia. Last week over 3 million New Yorkers, registered as independent voters, were unable to vote for candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders who have large backings in the Big Apple.

Now is a time where more and more citizens consider themselves unaffiliated or bound to a specific party. Does this take away their political opinion or right to vote for whatever candidate they feel is best fitting?

Under this system, the Sanders campaign said they were favored for a much closer race but were absent votes after one in four voters were prohibited from voting last week in New York.

“Probably a lot of those people out there in the crowd, hopefully a small number comparatively, are not even able to vote in this election because they didn’t change their registration to Democrat last October, when they haven’t even heard of Bernie Sanders,” Sanders’ wife, Jane, said on MSNBC before the New York primary. “Those kind of things seem silly. We’re bringing a lot more people into the party and they party is shutting the door on them.”

Members of both parties argue independent voters choose not to join a party and therefore the consequences are known. But affiliation to a political party should not be a prerequisite for equal access to primary voting in a public paid election.

According to a 2015 Gallup poll, at least 43 percent of Americans label themselves as political independents. So if a majority of rightful voters choose not to be part of the 30 percent who consider themselves Democrats or the 26 percent who claim Republican, are we really conducting accurate primary voting?

Millennials are a large sector of the Independent Party who have been unable to vote in states with closed primaries. According to a survey by USA Today/Rock The Vote showed millennials favor Democratic candidate Sanders at 46 percent and Republican candidate Trump at 26 percent.

While Trump had no trouble winning the primary in New York due to absent votes, the same was not said for Sanders.

“We have a system here in New York where independents can’t get involved in the Democratic primary,” Sanders said. “Where young people who have not previously registered and want to register today just can’t do it.”

As the primary elections draw to an end in the next few months, including states with closed primaries, a question has to be asked: are the votes accurate if they aren’t wholly inclusive? The answer is no.