We started Students for Open Primaries on a Zoom call in June of 2020. We had recently become interns for Open Primaries and were working to ratify Amendment 3 in our home state of Florida, which would create a top-two open primary system in state elections. We decided to create a campaign targeted toward students since around half of Gen Z identifies as politically independent.
For 5 months, we fought alongside campaigns like Florida Fair and Open Primaries and were endorsed by people like Katie Fahey and Magic Johnson. We wrote an Op-Ed that made it to the Sunday edition of the Miami Herald and were featured in a documentary called “The Young Vote.”
However, on November 3rd, the amendment fell 3% short of reaching the supermajority of 60% it needed to pass, despite the majority of the voters approving the amendment.
Disappointed but not disheartened, we began National Students for Open Primaries to help spread the message of nonpartisan primaries to students around the country. In our current partisan political climate, there is a growing call for nonpartisan, fair, and open primaries across the nation, especially with younger generations. Students for Open Primaries is ready to fight for the rights of every voter, regardless of political party, by educating students about our primary system and organizing them in support of open primary movements.
Who We Are
Dariel Cruz Rodriguez
Dariel Cruz Rodriguez is an aspiring change maker who enjoys connecting the dots. Dariel has been featured on the Fulcrum and Miami Herald for his work in Florida. From solving problems in his capacity as a Steering Committee Member at the Civics 2030 Campaign to being apart of a state campaign to bring Open Primaries to Florida, Dariel may very well have quite the experience under his belt in community organizing. Dariel served as a Founding Fellow in the Civics Unplugged Fellowship, and now serves as the Social Media Coordinator for the organization. Within the realm of non-partisan reform, Dariel currently serves as co-director of the Students for Open Primaries organization, and works with Elena to support Open Primaries initiatives on a daily basis.
Elena Ashburn is a constantly busy high school junior with a passion for making the world a better place. She is an active member of her school’s drama club and the Editorial Assistant for her school newspaper. As a high school sophomore, she co-founded Bloom: Empowering the Military Teen with her best friend. Bloom is a website for military kids, by military kids, and it has articles, videos, and art all about the life of a military-connected child. She is also a founder of Students for Open Primaries, and she is featured in the upcoming documentary “The Young Vote.” Additionally, she was a Founding Fellow of Civics Unplugged, and she remains active in the Civics 2030 community; in her free time, she hosts Civic Unplugged’s podcast, “Mission Control 2030: The Voice of Civics Unplugged.” She was also a Youth Reporter for EarthX, and she has a passion for audio journalism and public policy!
What is Open Primaries?
Open Primaries is a national organization that shares one sole mission: Let ALL voters vote. They advocate for open and nonpartisan primary systems, fight efforts to close primaries, educate voters and policy makers on primary reform, and support efforts nationwide for election reform.
Students for Open Primaries is a project of the Open Primaries Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization that conducts research, advances litigation, and educates the public and policymakers on the benefits of electoral reform.
What is Civics Unplugged?
Civics Unplugged is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social enterprise whose mission is to empower the leaders of Gen Z to build the future of democracy.
Students for Open Primaries is supported in part by Civics Unplugged’s “Civics 2030” campaign team, as a part of a cooperative partnership between Civics Unplugged and the Open Primaries Education Fund. Dariel and Elena are both Builders (former fellows) of Civics Unplugged.