Tuesday I was turned away at the polls. For weeks I've been trying to research the issues, be aware of the candidates and generally be prepared to cast my ballot. All to no avail. After standing in line for a few moments during a sunny Pittsburgh lunch hour, my record was located and I was informed, "You can't vote today."
I like to think of myself as a Pittsburgher. Even though I've lived in the region for only about 10 years, I love this city - and its suburbs. In fact, the whole region is pretty fantastic. I've worked Downtown and lived in the East End, the Strip District and now I'm in Mt. Lebanon. In the last few days, I "Pedaled Pittsburgh" and tuned in for WYEP's "913 essential songs" countdown. All this is to say that I care a great deal about this place, and I'd like to have the opportunity to vote.
You may have already guessed that I'm nonpartisan. I find that there are candidates from both of the major political parties (as well as independents!) who have good ideas and are worth electing. I must admit, this isn't the first time I've been turned away. But I got so caught up in learning more about the issues and the candidates that I decided it was worth showing up anyway.
My question is this: How can we make the election process more open and inclusive? Further, why is it that an independently minded candidate in this region must have the endorsement of a major party to stand a chance in an election? And is there any chance the primary elections will be opened to all eligible voters someday in the future?