For the first time in Oklahoma history, one of the duopoly parties have voted to allow voters registered as Independents to vote in their primaries. This past Saturday, an overwhelming majority of Democrats voted at their State Convention to allow Independents to vote in all Democratic primaries over the next two years. This means that Independents will be allowed to vote in the upcoming Democratic Presidential Primary as well as the primaries for all state and local elections.
Oklahoma has a closed primary with an option for parties to choose to open them to Independent voters. Since this became law, neither the Republican nor Democratic parties have made that choice. With this vote, that has changed.
State Democratic Party Chairman Mark Hammons had this to say about the vote:
Today Oklahoma Democrats from across Oklahoma came together for a historic vote to allow Independent voters access to Democratic primary ballots in Oklahoma. Democrats have opened their arms in allowing Independent voters access to have a voice in deciding candidates before they are chosen for them.
If you have hopes that the State Republican Party will choose to follow suit, you might not want to get your hopes up. State Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon said Democrats were making a mistake.
He predicted the change would water down the Democratic Party’s base, and said he had no interest in making a similar move in the Republican Party.
“A majority of the independents have come from the Republican party primarily because we haven’t done an excellent job of promoting Republican principles of limited government and lower taxes,” Brogdon said. “We want to give them a reason to come back.”
How this choice will “water down” the Democratic party base is unclear.
This will be a great election for Independent voters. Representatives from both the Oklahoma Libertarian and Green parties have said that they will allow Independents to vote in any primaries they may have in the coming election. If the party petitions for the Libertarian and Green parties are successful, then Independents will have 3 primaries to choose from.