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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Party Registration Identifies Voters

An edited version of this letter appeared in The Clarion-Ledger on April 9, 2007. It's a commentary on Charlie Mitchell's column of March 29, 2007.

Charlie Mitchell says, "This state is one of few" which does not have voter registration by party. In fact, Mississippi is one of 21 states without party registration. In the other 29 states, each voter either affiliates with one of the parties listed on the registration form or checks "independent." This is the most practical way of identifying voters, and that's its main purpose.

Mitchell claims that the Democrats' lawsuit seeks "a ruling to require Mississippians to register by party..." No court has ever ordered any state to have party registration; that's up to the legislature.

Mississippi law forces each party to allow any voter to participate in its primaries. The Democrats' suit asks the court to declare this law unconstitutional. If the law is ultimately struck down, each party will then be free to determine who votes in its primaries.

The Democrats have indicated that they will invite independents but exclude Republicans from their primaries. Gov. Haley Barbour has stated that the Republicans, on the other hand, will keep their primaries open to all voters-- even if the legislature enacts party registration. Thus, Republicans would be the only voters who would have fewer choices than they have today.

Neither the Mississippi Democrats' lawsuit nor the Virginia Republicans' similar suit is likely to reach the U. S. Supreme Court before the fall of 2008. This means that we will get to keep our current primary-election setup at least through next year.


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