A bill that would create new limits on when Kansas voters could change their party affiliations is another example of state legislators trying to correct a problem that probably doesn’t exist or at least not to an extent that justifies legislative action. In this case, that “fix” also could limit Kansas voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their preferred candidates. The bill that has passed the Senate Ethics and Election Committee last week would bar Kansas voters from changing their party affiliation from June 1 (the filing deadline for candidates) to Sept. 1 (about a month after the August primary elections). The goal of the bill, according to Kansas Republican Party officials, is to prevent voters from switching parties in order to skew the opposing party’s primary.
The officials say they have no proof of such switches, but they have a feeling some Democratic voters are switching parties to vote for the Republican candidate they believe is less likely to win against the Democratic opponent.
That might be a little underhanded, but it’s far from the most egregious political tactic employed in most races. And what if the voter actually is switching parties to vote for the candidate he or she prefers?
One of the arguments presented during committee testimony is that primary elections belong to the political party. That’s not really true. Political conventions that choose party nominees belong to the party, but state primaries belong to all state taxpayers.