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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

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Primaries in Idaho and Other States

Ballot Access News has a post on the Idaho Republican Party's pending suit against that state's open primary law. The GOP wants to be able to enforce its rule that prohibits non-members from voting in Republican primaries. A commenter named Allen says that, if there was party registration, he could register as a Republican, vote in the GOP primary, and then vote for his "main choices" in the November general election. Presumably, his "main choices" would not necessarily be the Republican nominees.

The difference is that a voter is not helping to choose a party’s nominees in the general election.

The point is that, with party registration, a voter signs a piece of paper affiliating with a party. I, for example, have voted in many Democratic primaries, but I would never, ever sign anything stating that I am a Democrat.

While registering voters by party is the most practical way of identifying voters’ party preferences, there are other ways of doing so, one of which I noted in my earlier post. Here’s another method: Assuming that state law does not mandate open primaries, a party could poll all registered voters in the state on their party preferences and use the results of that poll to determine which voters the party wanted to invite to participate in its primaries.

In New Hampshire, registered independents may re-register with a party at the polling place and then vote in that party’s primary. On leaving the voting booth, such a voter may immediately switch his registration back to independent status if he so wishes.

Rhode Island has the same setup, except that the voter's change back to independent status takes effect 90 days after the primary.

Iowa has party registration AND open primaries. A registered Democrat may switch his registration to Republican at the polling place and vote in the Republican primary, and vice versa.

In Utah, which has party registration, the Republicans invite independents to vote in GOP primaries. The Democrats, on the other hand, invite all voters-- even registered Republicans-- to participate in Democratic primaries.

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