According to Maine’s Secretary of State, roughly 280,000 people voted in the 2018 primary. That may sound like a lot, but it represents only 27 percent of Maine registered voters. In a state that prides itself on voter turnout, why did only a quarter of voters show up to make our most important decisions? I believe that one reason is Maine’s closed primary laws.

Most people will agree that politics is becoming increasingly polarized. Gridlock has stopped either side from making progress. Politicians are afraid to compromise, lest they alienate their base.

It’s no wonder that more and more voters are identifying as “independent.” Unenrolled voters are now the biggest voting block, surpassing Democrats and Republicans. Mainers are refusing to blindly follow the platforms of the major parties. There’s just one problem — they’re getting turned away at the polls.

When my father went to vote last June, he was told he couldn’t participate in the Democratic or Republican primaries. My dad prides himself on being an independent thinker and gladly votes for the best candidate, not the D or R that’s next to their name. He couldn’t vote in either primary because he is one of more than 400,000 Mainers who aren’t enrolled in either party.

State legislators are considering a bill that would open the primaries to all Maine voters. I am urging my legislators to support LD 211, “An Act To Open Maine’s Primaries.”

Now is the time to make our voices heard, especially those who have been silenced in the past.

Chris Cayer, Eustis