Miami Democrats want to let independents vote in the party’s primary elections

The Miami-Dade Democratic Party wants independent voters to help select Democratic nominees for governor and Congress, and will push to completely change the way the state party holds primary elections.

The local party — representing the county with the most registered Democrats in Florida — announced Friday that it is launching a campaign to change the Florida Democratic Party’s rules for primary elections. Currently, only Democrats can participate in Democratic primaries for local, state and federal races, and local leaders say they’ll push their counterparts in Florida’s other 66 counties to welcome independent voters into the August primaries.

“In order to win elections, we need to conduct outreach and make inroads with voters not affiliated with a party,” Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Steve Simeonidis said in a statement. “We need actions, not mere words and there is no stronger action than to welcome their voice in our primaries.”

There are separate, ongoing efforts to change the primary elections statewide for all parties, including a petition drive pushed by some of Miami’s biggest political boosters to amend the Florida Constitution, which includes a section laying out the rules for primary, general and special elections. But the effort by Miami-Dade Democrats is specific to the Florida Democratic Party, and local activists believe a change in party rules would be enough to alter the Democratic primary process.

Such a change would substantially alter the demographics of Democratic primary elections by widening the pool of voters and bringing in voters who are more likely to be moderate in their political leanings. It would also make primary campaigns more expensive, with more than 3 million no-party-affiliated voters throughout Florida suddenly able to participate.

A spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.