Over 60 percent of the Democratic voters say they want the party to hold an open nominating contest, according to a recent NBC poll.
Sixty-three percent say they want any registered voter to participate in the party’s election. The majority of Republicans – 52 percent – also prefer open primaries and caucuses. Independent voters argue that closed primary elections disenfranchise a large amount of the population.
“The world has changed,” said presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. “More and more people are independents and I think it makes no sense for the Democrats to say to those people, ‘You can’t help us.’ For Democrats to do well in a national election, they’re going to need a lot of independents and I would not think it’s a good idea to push those people away.”
Sanders has received more support in states that allow open primaries, while contender Hillary Clinton has done better in those that only allow registered Democrats to vote.
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has constantly been accused of supporting Clinton and undermining the Sanders' campaign, says she “absolutely” believes in closed primaries.
Sanders said he wants open contests in all 50 states, although it is unlikely that all states will agree, according to experts.
“States would likely balk at the prospect of having to change something that is an institutionalized custom,” said Josh Putnam, a University of Georgia political science lecturer.
In part, the issue has come to light due to a number of irregularities during the primaries.
Sanders denounced that 3 million registered independents in the state of New York lost their right to vote in both the Democratic and Republican primary. The state’s election required voters to register with their party six months ahead of the April primaries.