An effort to let voters decide if they want open primary elections advanced Friday, but moving to such a “top-two” system drew questions from members of the state Constitution Revision Commission. Commission member Bill Schifino, a Tampa attorney, initially proposed allowing unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in Republican or Democratic primaries. But Schifino altered the proposal to put all candidates seeking the same office — if there are more than two candidates — into a single primary regardless of party affiliation. The top two vote-getters would run in the general election. That system, already in use by California, Nebraska and Washington, would also allow state parties to list on the ballot the candidate they “endorse.”
Schifino said he continues to push the idea of an open-primary because of comments commissioners heard throughout the state, where 27 percent of voters are registered without any party and the majority of millennials are registering with no party affiliation.
“It is inevitable, we know where this is heading,” Schifino said. “The predictions are that within five years the NPAs will outnumber or at least equal the Ds and Rs. So the question is, how do we engage them in the primary voting process.”
Schifino’s revised proposal was approved Friday in a 6-3 vote by the Constitution Revision Commission’s Ethics and Elections Committee. The commission, which meets once every 20 years, is reviewing proposed constitutional amendments that could go before voters in November.