We have a representational government. In theory this means that we elect persons who we feel represent our wants and needs and who will enact policies in accordance with our wishes. In practice however, this isn’t quite how it works. Especially at the level of presidential elections, we are often left with a choice between only two candidates, and these candidates might not reflect anything of what we want from an elected representative.

What’s more, many of us do not have a choice of who the two candidates are. In Maine, presidential candidates are nominated solely by primary voters who are enrolled in a political party.

This goes against the independent spirit of many Maine voters. Despite the face that unenrolled voters are the largest voting bloc in the state, this group has no say in who they will be voting for in November elections. Unless they enroll in a political party on election day, they cannot participate in the primaries. Although the primaries are tax-payer funded, the largest share of voters are excluded.

Open primaries would remedy this. By allowing unenrolled voters to participate in primaries, we would expand democracy and give all voters a voice in choosing the candidates to compete in the general election. Unfortunately, legislation to make Maine an open primary state was voted down in Augusta. This was a mistake, and ideally this decision will be undone before 2020.

Our options for elected representatives are already limited by our two party system. I am registered with a party, but I believe that unenrolled voters deserve a say as much as anyone when it comes to choosing who they want to see on the ballot in November. That’s why I support open primaries.

Jeremy Mele