About Open Primaries

Pennsylvania is one of nine states that does not allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections. This means that on Primary Day 2019, one quarter of a million Pennsylvania voters were unable to cast a vote. Independent voters are the fastest growing political demographic in PA, and in the country, and it’s vital that all voices are heard.


LWVPA is proud to be a member of the Open Primaries PA coalition, a growing coalition of civic, community and business organizations committed to open and free elections in Pennsylvania that lead to responsive and accountable government.

Visit Open Primaries PA to find out more about the coalition’s work.

The Facts

  • Over 740,000 PA voters were not allowed to participate in the 2019 Primary Election

    • That’s about 8.5% of all registered voters in Pennsylvania

  • Statewide and local ballot questions can appear on primary ballots, so if voters feel like they’re not able to vote, they miss their opportunity to have their voice heard on these important actions.

  • According to an August 2019 Gallup poll, 40% of voters in the United States identify as independent, in comparison to 27% Republican and 29% Democrat.

    • In Pennsylvania, indepedents are 13% of all registered voters, in comparison to 38% Republican and 48% Democrats, suggesting that closed primaries discourage voters from registering in a way that aligns with their true beliefs and values.

  • According to a Bipartisan Policy Center report, open primaries increase voter participation in primary contests.

  • Allowing independent voters to help select candidates can have a moderating effect on candidate positions and leads to less extremism.

  • SB300, introduced by Senator Scarnati, would give independent PA voters a voice by allowing them to choose which party’s ballot they want to vote in the primary.

What does LWVPA support?

To learn more about the reforms we support, please see our official statement of position, Where We Stand.