Representative Corvese makes bill to open General Primaries

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Legislation created by Representative Arthur Corvese would open primary elections in Rhode Island to all candidates and voters, as part of a push to guarantee no candidate is selected into state or municipal offices without the support of a majority of their party.

This bill is being heard Thursday afternoon after House session, the current primary system would be replaced by a general primary system where all of the candidates are listed, but once the primary is settled, the top two vote-getters face off in general election. Our current system is a party affair where voters decide their party, and their chosen nominees. The party is the focus of the current primary system.

With this new system in place, candidates would have to ensure 50% of their party’s favor in order to be elected.

“As we’ve seen here in Rhode Island, it’s possible to win even the governorship with much less than half of voters’ support. That’s not much of a mandate, since a majority of voters actually voted against the candidate who won,” said Representative Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence). “With an open primary, the candidate who ultimately wins must earn the trust of at least half of the voters. It’s a way of ensuring the candidate truly represents the will of the majority of voters.”

The past two governors were elected with less than 50% party favor. Gina Raimondo in 2014 had 40.7% and Lincoln Chaffee in 2010 with 36.1%. The main goal of the bill is to give Rhode Islanders better representation and choice.

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