Types of Primaries
Florida is one of only 9 states with fully closed primaries. The rules on primaries vary. They can be generally classed into closed, partially closed, partially open, open to unaffiliated voters, top-two primaries and other primary process categories. To get a full description of the types of primaries and the states that use that type, go to https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/primary-types.aspx
League of Women Voters of Florida and Open Primaries
At the 2015 Florida League Convention, the majority of delegates decided to study the issue of whether or not Florida’s closed primary system was a hindrance to voter participation in the primaries in Florida.
Some factors which lead the LWV of Florida to support open primaries are:
- Florida averaged less than 23 percent turnout from 2000 to 2016.
- In 2016 open primary states averaged over 37 percent turnout.
- In 2016 76% of open primary states had better turnout than Florida.
- Over 3.4 Million No Party Affiliates and minor parties can’t vote in Florida’s closed primary unless they register with the party. The vast majority of the NPA voters were millennials, so the percentage of voters excluded from voting in primaries will continue to grow.
- Open Primaries will provide access to the broadest slate of candidates, which would increase voter participation.
To see an executive summary or complete LWV of Florida Open Primary Study Kit, Click Here
November 2020 General Election – Florida Constitutional Amendment 3, Top-Two Open Primaries for State Offices Initiative
Amendment 3 would change Florida’s primary elections for state legislators, the governor and lieutenant governor and elected cabinet members ( Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and Customer Services, and Chief Financial Officer) from a closed election to a top-two open primary.
Currently, in Florida, primaries are closed, meaning a voter must be registered with a political party in order to participate in that party’s primary election. Winners of a partisan primary election advance to the general election.
Amendment 3 would replace closed primaries with top-two primaries in which all candidates would be placed on one ballot regardless of political affiliation and the top two candidates with the most votes would advance to the general election. A candidate’s party affiliation may appear on the ballot as provided by law. The primaries would also be open, meaning any registered voter, regardless of their political affiliation, could vote in the primary election.
Under Amendment 3, in cases where only two candidates qualify for the primary election, the primary would be canceled and the election winner would be decided in the general election. If approved by 60% of voters at the 2020 general election, the top-two open primary system would be used beginning in 2024.