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Free Citizen

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

Name:
Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Monday, June 02, 2008

Voter ID And Closing Primaries

Last year, U. S. district judge Allen Pepper, in a lawsuit brought by the Mississippi Democratic Party, declared Mississippi's open primary[1] law unconstitutional. He went further and also ordered the state to enact voter ID and the registration of voters by party. Last week, the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the case was not ripe for review and reversed Pepper's decision.

Sidney Salter's June 1 column in The Clarion-Ledger was titled "Voter ID: The thing that won't go away." Unfortunately, much of the focus has been on the hot-button issue of voter ID, which Pepper erroneously injected into this case.

"U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper ruled Democratic and Republican primaries should be closed and that voters would re-register to vote and in doing so declare a party affiliation.

Sidney, as part of the media echo chamber, has been saying this at least since last year. As long as he-- or any other member of the echo chamber-- keeps claiming this, I'll keep rebutting it.

The Democrats want to be able to block Republicans from voting in Democratic primaries. Since the current law forces each party to open its primary to all registered voters, the party brought the suit against the law. The courts' proper role is to rule on the law's constitutionality, and Pepper said it is unconstitutional. He also, in my view, exceeded his authority by ordering voter ID and party registration, neither of which is necessary for a party to exclude voters from its primaries.

In a closed primary, only party members may vote. No court can order parties to have closed primaries, and neither can the state. If a party has a closed primary, it's because that party closed it.

"Pepper also ruled that the Legislature should enact a photo voter ID policy. Pepper's decision was in response to a state Democratic Party lawsuit against the Election Commission seeking to close primaries..."

Pepper's June 2007 ruling ordered photo voter ID, but his amended July 2007 order left out "photo" and merely said "voter ID." Again: only a party can close its primary. If the Democrats ultimately succeed in having our state-mandated open primaries invalidated, the party has said that it will continue to welcome independents into Democratic primaries. The state Republican Party, in contrast, has indicated that it will keep GOP primaries open to all registered voters. Thus, Republicans would be the only voters who would have less choice on primary day, as they would be restricted to GOP primaries.

"The Republicans have a firm hold on that reliable wedge issue that inflames crossover voters who don't understand why people would resist identifying themselves at the polling place - and for whom Ike Brown is still some kind of threat."

Ironically, Brown, chairman of the Democratic Party of Noxubee County in northeast Mississippi, has been quoted as saying that he favors voter ID (it's my understanding that Brown is no longer a member of the state Democratic Executive Committee).

The best way to dispose of the voter ID issue, in my view, would be to enact voter ID. The Legislative Black Caucus is against it, however, and just about anything that the LBC opposes is doomed to defeat.

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[1] In an open primary, a party's ballot is available to any voter who requests it. The law which the Mississippi Democratic Party has challenged forces each party to conduct open primaries.

1 Comments:

Blogger Doloroso said...

Steve - you might find this article interesting from the National Law Journal - Voter ID Challenges to Continue Across U.S.

Thu Jun 05, 03:59:00 PM CDT  

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