A poll by Open Primaries, a national organization that supports nonpartisan elections, says 85 percent of primary voters favor nonpartisan primaries.
According to the poll released by Open Primaries on Monday, 88 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats agreed with the statement, "A nonpartisan system would force politicans to represent people, not parities."
The poll surveyed 250 voters (125 who voted in the last Cochran/McDaniel primary and 125 who voted in one of the last three Democratic primaries. The calls were made by an automated system but a person took over the call and asked the questions, according to Open Primaries. Only landlines were called.
On the statement, "Voters need to have as much or more power than political parties," 95 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats agreed. Eighty-four percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats said closed primaries are a step backwards.
After a controversial GOP primary lastyear for U.S. Senate between Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann formed a committee to study possible changes to the election system.
A top-two primary election system, where all candidates appear on a single ballot, was the choice of 46 percent of the 50 committee members. In that primary, the top two, regardless of party affiliation, would move on to the general election.
Forty percent preferred to make changes to the current system, where voters must choose either a Democratic or Republican ballot at the polls. Voters don't registered by party affiliation, though, but they do have to "intend" to vote for the same party in the general election as they did in the primary.
McDaniel favors a closed primary that would not allow voters who aren't a member of a party from voting in that party's primary.
“A Top Two system would bring significant benefits to Mississippi voters as we have seen in other states such as California, said John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries. "The California Legislature is still dominated by Democrats, just as it was under the old partisan system. Today, however, Democratic legislators are much less vulnerable to being told what to do by their party leaders.
"They don’t just ask party leadership how to vote. They talk to their constituents and vote based on a variety of inputs. So while Democrats may constitute a super majority in the California Legislature, the Democratic Party does not control it.
"That is a huge and consequential distinction for all Californians and would benefit Mississippi voters as well.”
In Mississippi, the Republican Party controls both houses of the Legislature and the executive branch.