U.S. residents were becoming more and more concerned about corruption within the political process in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These concerns contributed to the growth of Progressivism, a major reform movement of this era. One reform instituted by Progressives in many states was the direct primary. Until the advent of the direct primary, political parties usually chose their candidates in closed-door meetings or at political conventions. As a result of this process, a few influential people were often able to manipulate the party's choice of candidates. Progressives believed that this process led to political corruption and kept elections from being truly democratic. With a direct primary system, the voters chose for themselves who would represent their political party in the regular election.
Wisconsin was the first state to implement the direct primary, and other states soon followed its example. The Reverend Herbert Bigelow of Cincinnati was instrumental in gaining passage of the direct primary in Ohio, which became law in 1906. Ohio's direct primary law required a primary election for candidates running for state, county, and local elections.
- Hofstadter, Richard. The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1960.
- Hofstadter, Richard. The Progressive Movement, 1900-1915. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963.
- McGerr, Michael. A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920. New York, NY: Free Press, 2003.