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Author Nick Troiano weighs in on why the political primary system is broken

Some political experts contend that the biggest issue in our current political atmosphere is partisan polarization and the number of eligible voters who don't cast a ballot.

Nick Troiano, the executive director of the political reform non-profit Unite America and former independent congressional candidate, published a new book that offers what he calls solutions. Troiano spoke with ABC News' Linsey Davis Monday about " The Primary Solution: Rescuing Our Democracy from the Fringes," and Super Tuesday.

PHOTO: ABC News’ Linsey Davis speaks with executive director of Unite America, Nick Troiano, about Super Tuesday and discussing his book 'The Primary Solution: Rescuing our Democracy from the Fringes,' March 4, 2024. (ABC News)
PHOTO: ABC News’ Linsey Davis speaks with executive director of Unite America, Nick Troiano, about Super Tuesday and discussing his book 'The Primary Solution: Rescuing our Democracy from the Fringes,' March 4, 2024. (ABC News)

ABC NEWS LIVE: In your book, you say one of the biggest solvable problems fueling political extremism and dysfunction is partisan primaries, but it's a system, of course, we've relied on for more than a century now. What do you propose as a solution?

NICK TROIANO: Well, I called partisan primaries the biggest solvable problem in our politics today, because it is disenfranchising millions of voters, particularly Independents, who are prohibited from voting in party primaries in close to two dozen states this year. But it's also a solvable problem because at the state level, we can fix it. We can open primaries so that every voter can vote for any candidate they want in every election. And we're already seeing some states move in this direction, whether it's in Maine, where for the first time this year, [where] Independent voters will be able to participate, or states like Alaska, which is actually replaced its party primaries with a single nonpartisan primary with an all candidate ballot. These are reforms that are taking root all across the country, and I think there is a pragmatic solution to the polarization that we see today.

MORE: 5 things to watch for in Super Tuesday's races

ABC NEWS LIVE: And so you just mentioned Alaska as an example, a model of how some states have drastically changed their primary process. What do you think has worked for them? And do you think it's a model that other states could easily follow?

TROIANO: Well, what's worked is that in the past, like most states and most congressional elections, the elections that mattered were typically only the primary in which the parties would choose which candidate it would nominate. And that's because most of our elections are so lopsided for one party or the other. And when these primary reforms are enacted, what it does is give all voters the chance to be able to vote on who represents them, and moreover, it gives those candidates, an elected officials, an incentive to campaign and to represent a majority of the electorate, not just the base of their party. And if we want to make progress on the big challenges facing the country, we need these reforms, because right now Congress is not representing us. We're not seeing action on issues even where a majority of Americans agree.

PHOTO: A voter casts their vote at Dunbar Recreation Center on Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Little Rock, Ark. (Will Newton/Getty Images)
PHOTO: A voter casts their vote at Dunbar Recreation Center on Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Little Rock, Ark. (Will Newton/Getty Images)

ABC NEWS LIVE: You write how often the primary election can decide the general election, and Unite America estimates up to 25% of House seats will effectively be decided by tomorrow. Is that a problem in your view?

TROIANO: Very much so, in part because on Super Tuesday, as you mentioned, close to a quarter of the U.S. Congress will effectively be elected in these safe districts, and it will exclude millions of voters who don't aren't able even to participate in those party primaries. A majority of veterans, for example, identify as independent. A majority of young people do. So our current system is telling the future of our country, those who fought for our country, that they don't have a voice. You know, that's not just wrong. It's un-American. And this is why it's so important we change it.

MORE: What is Super Tuesday and why does it matter?

ABC NEWS LIVE: Quite a lot of voters have expressed discontent with both President Biden and former President Trump. What would you say to a voter who has just given up hope and is planning to sit out the election altogether?

TROIANO: Well, listen, I think that there are still multiple candidates competing, even at the presidential level, and they're important races down ballot. So if you're able to vote in the primaries, I suggest you do so. But then get involved in this election reform movement. Look at organizations like represent us in open primaries, where you can be part of the solution at the state level. I think that's one of the reasons why I remain so optimistic is because improving our election system is a proud tradition in our country. As you mentioned, we didn't have primaries 100 years ago until we invented them. It was an improvement at the time, and today demands the same that we update our election system for our own times to make progress for our democracy and the issues that we care about.

Author Nick Troiano weighs in on why the political primary system is broken originally appeared on abcnews.go.com