The Montana Republican Party and eight of its county-level committees have asked the Supreme Court to bar non-Republicans from crossing over and casting GOP ballots in the state’s “open primary” election on June 7. The application (Ravalli County Republican Central Committee v. McCulloch, 15A911) seeks action by the Court by March 31. The state has been told to reply by Tuesday afternoon. Potentially, this dispute over cross-over voters could affect all of the eleven states that now have an “open primary” — that is, one in which voters are not restricted to vote only for a specific party’s candidates for state and congressional offices. The request was filed with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who handles emergency legal matters from the geographic area that is the Ninth Circuit, which includes Montana. Kennedy has the option of acting on his own or sharing the request with the other Justices.
The specific request is for a order by the Court that would free the Montana GOP to conduct a primary in which only members of its party could participate. If such an order were issued by March 31, the GOP groups said, they would have time to write rules for the party’s nomination process that would confine it to registered Republicans only. Ballots for military and overseas voters who will be absent on election day will start going out in the mail on April 22.
Montana has had an “open primary” since the state’s voters approved that approach in 1912. As it currently operates, a voter goes to the polls to vote, and is free to choose either a ballot on which only Republican candidates are listed, or one listing the Democratic candidates.
No proof of party affiliation is necessary, and the voter has the option of requesting both parties’ ballots. In that case, the voter must choose one, and throw the other away. But election officials do not know whether any particular voter has cast a ballot for the GOP or for the Democrats. No one is asked which of the two ballots he chose.
Full Article: Montana GOP challenges cross-over voters : SCOTUSblog.