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Barton Article on Making Primaries Nonpartisan, or Eliminating Them, Published in Governing

May 11, 2023


Richard Barton

Richard Barton

"An Antidote for Our Ultra-Polarized Politics," written by Richard Barton, assistant teaching professor of public administration and international affairs and policy studies, was published in Governing. 

Barton says "a viable solution that is gaining traction across the country is replacing partisan primaries with nonpartisan primaries, in which all candidates (Democratic, Republican, independent and third party) compete directly against each other and all eligible voters can participate." 

"Three states—Alaska, California and Washington—have done this in one form or another for all state and federal elections. And Nevada voters could make their state the fourth nonpartisan-primary state through an initiative on the ballot next year," writes Barton. 

"How can we tell if these reforms are working? The increasing rate of their expansion hasn’t left the public—including researchers such as myself or the average voter—with much information to judge," Barton says. "That is, with one exception: Louisiana, which did away with the party primary system altogether back in the 1970s. My research about the state in the wake of this change, the first study of its kind, shows that Louisiana has reduced polarization, improved governance and even bettered resident health," he says.

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