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Free Citizen

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

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Mississippi Open Primary Case: U. S. District Court Ruling

Bobby Harrison’s July 5 article on Judge Allen Pepper’s ruling is an improvement over his previous writing on the subject.

“... a lawsuit filed by Democratic voters...”

Actually, the suit was filed by the state Democratic Executive Committee, the party’s governing body.

“Clark and Barbour are asking U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper to order the Mississippi Legislature to enact a voter identification requirement.”

If indeed that is what the secretary of state and the governor are requesting, it proves that Pepper is suggesting-- not ordering-- voter ID in his ruling. This is further evidenced by the fact that Pepper orders the state to submit its plan for implementing his ruling to the U. S. Justice Department for approval (pre-clearance).

If a federal court in fact orders something, it is not necessary for it to be pre-cleared by Justice. In any event, if Pepper does order voter ID, the 5th Circuit will likely reverse that part of the ruling. The same is true of party registration, which, again, I say Pepper is merely suggesting. Such things as voter ID and party registration are the legislature’s prerogatives.

“... to ensure that a person has a party registration, Pepper has ordered a photo voter identification.”

Again, I say that Pepper has suggested-- not ordered-- photo voter ID. And party registration and voter ID are not linked, as illustrated by the fact that, of the 29 states with party registration, 19 do not have voter ID. And 14 states have voter ID but do not have party registration. The purpose of voter ID is simply to prove that the voter is who he says he is.

“... the original lawsuit to close the primaries...”

There’s only been one lawsuit. It asked the court to declare our primary election law unconstitutional-- which Pepper did-- so that each party will be able to say who votes in its primaries.

“Under a closed primary system, a political party would have the option to keep voters from another party from participating.”

Closed primary: a party’s primary ballot is only available to that party’s members. If a party’s primary is closed, it’s because the party closed it-- not the courts or the state.

“... 29 states have closed primaries.”

29 states have party registration, but there are variations among these states as to what types of primaries the parties have. In Utah, for example, the Republicans invite independents to vote in their primaries, while the Democrats have open primaries: all voters-- even registered Republicans-- are invited. (Of course, a voter may only vote in one party's primary.)

"[Gov.] Barbour called the vote of the [state Board of Election Commissioners] urging Pepper to enact voter identification in a ‘timely fashion’ historic.”

“Enact” usually refers to lawmaking. That’s the role of legislative bodies-- not courts.

The board could have taken this “historic” vote at any time during the last three and 1/2 years-- instead of a few weeks before the primary elections.

Good commentary on this topic is at MississippiPolitics.

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