Illinois has always had an open primary. Illinois has never asked voters to choose a party when they fill out voter registration forms. Illinois primary rules require voters at the polls on primary day to publicly ask for one party’s primary ballot.
Earlier this year, Governor Pat Quinn rewrote HB 4842, to convert it into a bill that says Illinois should switch to a secret open primary. A secret open primary is one in which each voter decides in the secrecy of the voting booth which party’s primary to vote in. The Governor rewrote the bill under a process that is called an “Amendatory Veto.”
The Illinois legislature is currently meeting in its veto session. The Illinois House took no action on the Governor’s version of HB 4842, so it has now died, and the Illinois primary will remain one in which a voter must publicly choose a primary ballot. In an Illinois veto session, when the Governor carries out an amendatory veto, that bill is sent back to the house of origin. If that house simply does nothing, the bill dies, because it is never sent over to the other house.
The news media of the United States have no consistent definition of “open primary”. The term means something different in almost every state, if one only reads the newspapers. In Pennsylvania, “open primary” means a closed primary in which the party organization makes no endorsement. In Illinois, “open primary” means a secret open primary. In California, “open primary” means a top-two system. In Florida, “open primary” means a blanket primary. In Kentucky, “open primary” means a closed primary in which independents can choose any party’s primary to vote in. Because of this inconsistent terminology, Illinois newspapers are reporting that Governor Quinn’s “open primary” idea has been killed.