OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Democratic Party leadership has decided to open its statewide May primary to independents.
The party's Central Committee voted 32-30 on Saturday to make the change.
State party chairman Vince Powers said the measure is aimed in part at encouraging people to vote.
"This vote emphasizes the openness of our party and the great importance we place on the political process and voter participation in all elections," Powers said.
Before Saturday, independent voters — officially nonpartisan — could vote on party ballots only in federal primary elections, such as those for U.S. senator.
Republicans made up 48 percent of registered Nebraska voters in the 2012 general election. Democrats made up about 32 percent and independents about 20 percent.
Republican state chairman J.L. Spray says his party isn't likely to make a similar change.
"It seems the Democrats are taking a short-term view," he said. "Party registration isn't stagnant, and we prefer to attract registered independents with candidates and ideas. If they choose to vote and participate in our party, that's great."
Under a bill being considered by the Legislature, independent voters would receive the ballot of one or the other political party at the polling place.