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What’s the Matter with Primaries? Examining Primary Turnout and Reforms

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Primary elections are viewed with a mix of concerns and optimism — some see them incentivizing extreme candidates and excluding independent voters while others see the solution to those very issues. A host of reforms have been proposed, like opening primaries up to independent voters or implementing top-two, top-four, and even top-five systems. Yet, while primaries are often among the most consequential contests in American politics, voters are largely uninterested. Primary turnout in most races is abysmally low, and in some states is trending down. Are new forms of primaries part of the prescription for what ails American politics, and what can be done about low turnout?

Join the Bipartisan Policy Center, election experts, and policymakers for a discussion examining primary turnout and reform, including new 50-state analysis of 2022 midterm primary turnout and the impact of reforms like Alaska’s new top-four system.

Featured Speakers

Senator Dan Laughlin
Pennsylvania Senate District 49 (R)

Michael Thorning
Director of Structural Democracy, BPC

Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins
Former Representative, Alaska House of Representatives District 35 (D)

Ryan Williamson
Resident Fellow, Governance, R Street Institute


Matt Brown
National Correspondent for Democracy, The Washington Post

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