A few months before each primary election, in states that conduct closed primaries, articles begin to appear claiming that independents can vote in the upcoming major party primaries. Voters only need to submit a form requesting a partisan ballot, or in some cases, simply choose a partisan ballot on election day. These are often claimed to be “hybrid”, “semi-open” or “semi-closed” primaries. In one case, the author actually claims the primary is “open”. The posts excerpted below are great examples:
The best way to explain the hybrid primary is by examining the ballots that voters may choose to use. Shown below are “mock” ballots for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Primary. These are representations of actual ballots received by Oregon voters in May of 2016. (Note: Oregon had 3 major parties in 2016, but the third party had no presidential candidate.)
Recently, there’s been an uptick of support at the Independent Voter Network (IVN) for an election reform proposal called “The Public Ballot”. This was first introduced in California by two Republican assembly members as ACR 145 – 2016. A very similar proposal called “The Peoples Primary” was introduced in the Oregon legislature by Republicans in 2017 as HB-3140.
These proposals look a lot like the hybrid primary, and the posts at IVN use a lot of the same rhetoric and language that’s used to argue for the hybrid primary. Both proposals use three different ballots – just like the hybrid primary, and the posts at IVN even use a diagram showing the three ballots side-by-side, just like the posts here. So let’s compare the diagrams to see how the proposals match up.
By design, four candidates are advanced from a hybrid primary to the general election. For major party candidates, the two-stage vote tally eliminates vote splitting in the primary, but vote splitting in the general election still exists. For Democrats and other progressives this is critical. In the past, vote splitting by progressive candidates in the general election has resulted in the election of conservative candidates with less than 50% of the vote. (Bush, Gore, Nader – Florida 2000)
A closed primary is a private election, limited to affiliated party members, who must declare their party affiliation in order to participate. All unaffiliated voters are excluded. All unaffiliated candidates are excluded.