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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, April 10, 2010

Louisiana "Open Primary" Bill

At this posting, there are 24 comments on this piece.

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From Ballot Access News:

On April 7, the Louisiana House and Governmental Affairs Committee passed HB 292 unanimously. It would convert Congressional elections from a semi-closed system, to [an "open primary"] system.[1] The first round would be in November. If no one got a majority [50-plus percent] in November, the state would hold a run-off in December. The author of HB 292 is Rep. Hunter Greene (R-Baton Rouge).

The Committee also considered HB 1157, by Rep. Cameron Henry. It would have retained [party primaries] for Congress, but abolished run-off [or second] party primaries. Both bills would have saved money. The Committee chair said the Speaker had told him to advance only one of these two bills, so HB 1157 did not pass. However, it could be revived if HB 292 does not get enacted into law. For more detail, see this story (scroll down).


Louisiana has used the "open primary" for its state and local elections since 1975. The state also used this system for its congressional elections from 1978 to 2006 but restored party primaries for Congress in 2008. The Democrats invited registered independents to vote in their congressional primary, but the Republicans did not. If HB 292 is enacted, it won't take effect before 2012, so the state will again conduct party primaries for Congress this year.

The Bayou State's adoption of the "open primary" relates to Mississippi's efforts to impose that system here. Five times between 1966 and 1979, the Mississippi legislature passed the "open primary" for our state and local elections, but its implementation was blocked each time. Meanwhile, Louisiana copied the concept from the Magnolia State and succeeded in putting it into effect over there.

Currently, Washington state-- which calls it the "top two"-- is the only other state that uses this type of system to elect all of its state officials. Washington alone now uses it for its congressional elections. As mentioned elsewhere on this site, the Washington "top two" is facing more federal litigation (Washington State Republican Party v. Washington State and Washington State Grange).

California's June 8 ballots will feature Proposition 14, a measure for a Louisiana-style "top two" ("open primary") for the Golden State's congressional and state elections.

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[1} This is the popular name in Louisiana and Mississippi for nonpartisan elections, in which all candidates, including independents, are listed on a single ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the runoff.

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