DEVELOPING ARGUMENTS AND STRATEGIC MESSAGING TO KEEP PRIMARY ELECTIONS OPEN
Open Primaries is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for open and nonpartisan primary election systems, educate voters, counter efforts to impose closed primaries, and build local, state, and national coalitions. The organization engaged a Capstone team to examine the efforts to close primaries in the Republican-controlled states of Idaho, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas. The team conducted background research on the types of primary elections in the US and three key reasons for keeping primaries open: protecting the voice of independent voters, avoiding electoral polarization, and preventing expensive logistics for taxpayers. The team also explored Idaho's successful effort to close its primary election in 2012, subsequent changes, and public responses thereto. The team’s final paper details its findings, reviews current campaigns to close primaries in Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas, and proposes recommendations for strategic messaging to keep primaries open.