Voters in Wyoming would not be able to switch their political party affiliation on primary election day under a measure passed Tuesday by the state Senate. The bill was approved on a 20-10 vote and sent to the House of Representatives, which is working on its own version of the measure. Wyoming currently allows voters to change party affiliation on primary or general election day. That has some members of the Republican Party, the dominant political party in the state, complaining that Democratic crossover voters can unfairly influence Wyoming’s GOP primaries.
As Florida’s population grows and more residents shun traditional party affiliations, voters are befuddled, if not angry, about the state’s closed-primary system, including the use of write-in candidates, three local elections supervisors testified Wednesday. “When it comes to the primary election, our voters are confused,” Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes told the state Constitution Revision Commission’s Ethics and Elections Committee. Many new voters move to Florida from other states with more open voting systems as opposed to Florida’s closed primaries, which are restricted to voters who are registered with parties. Florida is one of nine states using a closed-primary system. “We have people coming from all over the country, and they bring with them the experiences that they have had and what they know,” Snipes said. “It’s difficult for them to understand.”
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said he’s received reports from several voting locations where Alabamians who voted in the Aug. 15 Democratic primary were attempting to cast ballots in Tuesday’s GOP runoff. According to Alabama state law, that’s considered voter fraud and is illegal. State residents are prohibited to vote in one party’s primary and later voting in the other party’s runoff election. The process, deemed “crossover voting,” was made illegal earlier this year in an attempt to limit cross-party candidate selection as Alabamians are not required to register to a specific party to vote, but may only vote in one party’s primary.
The New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday upheld the state’s system of closed primary elections, ruling the practice is constitutional and not overly burdensome. The decision means primary elections can continue to be closed to voters who aren’t registered as members of the political parties with candidates on the ballot. That means other voters, including those who decline to state a party affiliation, can vote in only general elections. The Supreme Court’s ruling, however, may not be the last word on the issue. The state Legislature is considering legislation to open primary elections to all voters. Albuquerque lawyer David Crum, who brought the case before the Supreme Court, had argued closed primaries violate the state constitution’s guarantee of free and open elections.
California: Activist lawyers sue California on voter rules, possibly boosting Bernie Sanders support | The Sacramento Bee
As Bernie Sanders supporters fear their candidate will miss out on crucial votes from independent and crossover voters in California’s June primary, civil rights lawyers filed suit Friday seeking more time for those voters to request a Democratic presidential ballot. The lawyers sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of an organization trying to boost turnout for Sanders in his bid against Hillary Clinton. Additional plaintiffs include two individual voters and the American Independent Party, a conservative organization on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Sanders. In the suit against Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Alameda County and San Francisco election officials, the plaintiffs contend that nonpartisan voters have received inconsistent and confusing instructions on how to vote in the June 7 presidential primary. They say thousands of voters will be disenfranchised.
This presidential primary season has exposed serious fault lines in our election system. One has been known for years. The voting rights of African Americans and Latinos continue to be compromised. Another has become the focus of widespread attention by the media and by ordinary Americans for the first time. There is a vast block of non-aligned voters who are systematically excluded from partisan primaries, where the decisions that effectively determine who will take office are often made. Independents have militantly protested their exclusion from a presidential nominating process organized around party primaries and caucuses. A look at the recent Arizona and New York presidential primaries helps us understand the interplay between these two voting rights issues.
The chance that Colorado’s unaffiliated voters might be able to participate in an open presidential primary in 2020 has dropped — at least for now — after state legislators Friday proposed a new compromise bill. Backed by a bipartisan group of sponsors, the Senate bill was racing to get through the General Assembly in the final days of the session, which ends Wednesday. It would reinstate the primary on the third Tuesday of March for presidential selections — but keep it closed to unaffiliated voters, as the major political parties prefer. The bill, which faces some resistance, raises the stakes before a potential November ballot measure that would force a statewide vote on the issue.
Some of Bernie Sanders’s biggest supporters may not be able to vote for him in New York’s primary on Tuesday. Unaffiliated voters are a big share of Sanders’s support, but New York makes it hard for voters to register for a party at the last minute. For example, Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner and a Sanders supporter, can’t vote in the Democratic primary because she didn’t change her party registration in time to qualify. It’s an issue for Republicans too: Some high-profile Donald Trump supporters — or at least two of his kids — won’t be able to partake in the fun. New York’s deadline for switching party registration was Oct. 9, 193 days before the primary. I wanted to know if a party-switch deadline six months before a primary or caucus was as unusual as it sounded, so I went through every state’s election board website to see.
New York: 27 Percent of New York’s Registered Voters Won’t Be Able to Vote in the State’s Primary | The Nation
In June 2013, North Carolina passed the most sweeping voting restrictions in the country, requiring strict voter ID, cutting early voting and eliminating same-day registration, pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds, and out-of-precinct voting, among other political reforms. The state defended its cutbacks in court last summer by invoking, of all places, New York. “The state of New York has no early voting as opposed to North Carolina that has ten days of early voting,” lawyer Thomas Farr said. “The state of New York has no same-day registration. The state of New York has no out-of-precinct voting. The state of New York has no pre-registration.” It was a cynical defense of North Carolina’s law—North Carolinians don’t deserve to suffer because a state 500 miles away has different laws—but it was still unnerving to hear a Southern state invoke a progressive Northern state to rationalize making it harder to vote. The fact is, New York does have some of the worst voting laws in the country. New York has no early voting (unlike 37 states), no Election Day registration (the state constitution requires voters to register no later than 10 days before an election), and excuse-only absentee balloting (voters have to prove they’ll be out of town or have a disability.)
More than 200 outraged New York voters have joined a lawsuit claiming the party affiliation on their voter registration changed without their consent. The voters say they are unfairly being shut out of Tuesday’s primary. The suit, to be filed Monday in Brooklyn, calls for New York to be an open primary state, allowing anyone to vote in primaries regardless of party affiliation. “For many of our complainants, to have the electoral process deprived of them, it’s devastating,” Shyla Nelson, an activist and spokeswoman for Election Justice U.S.A., told the Daily News.
When Donald Trump confirmed to the hosts on Fox & Friends on Monday that two of his adult children, Ivanka and Eric, would not be able to vote for him in the New York primary, it seemed like one more head-smacking blunder by a disorganized campaign. How could Trump’s own kids forget to register in a state that has become crucial to his bid for the Republican nomination? Their lapse may be easy fodder for Trump’s rivals, but Ivanka and Eric’s plight is engendering far more sympathy from election reformers who are much more familiar with New York’s notoriously restrictive voting laws. “They’re just like a lot of people whom we’re hearing from on a regular basis,” Susan Lerner, the executive director of the state’s Common Cause affiliate, told me. Voting in New York is for early planners, not procrastinators. And that’s especially true for primaries.
The Montana Republican Party will drop out of a lawsuit that seeks to allow only GOP-registered voters to participate in its primary elections, but Republican committees in 10 counties plan to press forward with the case. The likelihood of ending Montana’s open-primary system through the lawsuit is low, based on previous court rulings against the party in the case, according to a statement attributed to the state party chairman, Billings Rep. Jeff Essmann. So the party’s executive board voted to seek to dismiss the case. “We hope that all parties to the matter will agree that there is no need for the expense of a trial to be incurred at this point,” Essmann said in the statement. The state party’s attorney will file a motion to dismiss the case, GOP spokesman Shane Scanlon said.
Two petitions calling for a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation of the March 22 Arizona presidential primary election have gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures in the past few days. Though overshadowed by other stories in the mass media like ISIS, the Brussels bombings and the Trump-Cruz spectacle over wives and alleged affairs, the demand for a DOJ investigation is picking up steam following last Tuesday’s debacle of ballot shortages and hours-long poll lines. Many people reportedly left the polls after long waits without voting. During a primary that was closed to independents, reports also surfaced of voters claiming long-time Democratic Party registrations being told by election officials that they could not vote because their names were showing up in the voter rolls as registered Republicans or independents.
Voters are switching party affiliation in Pennsylvania at a rate not seen in years, if ever, as their chance to cast ballots in a competitive presidential primary election approaches. The latest statistics this week from Pennsylvania’s elections bureau show about 245,000 registered voters have switched this year, or 3 percent of the state’s 8.2 million registered voters. This is the first year voter registration in the state can be done online, making it easier than getting the paperwork, filling it out and submitting it. But many of those switching parties reported wanting to vote in Pennsylvania’s April 26 primary, and the switching accelerated in the weeks before Monday’s deadline to register to vote or change registration. In Pennsylvania, closed primaries are open only to the party’s registered voters and, historically, races tend to be settled by the time the state’s relatively late primary election date arrives. This year, contested primaries, particularly the closely contested Republican race, are driving up voter interest.
Another Florida election is over, but another Florida election controversy is just beginning. In the aftermath of the passionate outpouring of support for Donald Trump, some voters complained that when they went to the polls on March 15, they were given ballots without Trump’s name. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that hundreds of Palm Beach County voters received ballots for unaffiliated no-party or “NPA” voters, which means those voters could not vote for president in either party because Florida is a “closed primary” state. Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams identified about 2,000 people who updated their drivers’ license information at a local tax collector’s office did not realize that they were required to again choose their political party affiliation. Voters who don’t check that box are automatically classified as NPA voters — and the problem wasn’t discovered until those voters showed up to vote.
Idaho voters seeking to change their political party affiliation before this year’s presidential primary election would be up against a tight deadline under new legislation introduced Monday. The bill, approved by the Senate State Affairs Committee through a voice vote, would cut off party affiliation changes on the second Friday of February. That would be Feb. 12 this year. The current deadline is March 12. Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst says current law allows people to register as Republican during Idaho’s new March 8 presidential primary election and then switch to another party to vote under different affiliation in the May 17 primary for state and local offices.
Montana Republican officials plan to file an emergency appeal seeking to close the June primary elections to voters who aren’t registered party members, their attorney said Tuesday. The decision by the 10 GOP county central committees to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes after U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Monday denied their request for an order to close the upcoming GOP primaries, attorney Matthew Monforton said. Morris ruled that the Republican plaintiffs have too many unproven claims in their constitutional challenge to the state’s open primary system to decide the case without a trial. They have presented enough evidence to continue the case, but must have data supporting their claims that the system harms their freedom to associate with other party members and forces candidates to change their messages.
Ravalli County Republicans sued the state Monday in an attempt to require voters to register with the GOP in order to participate in the party’s primary elections. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court seeks to close Montana’s open primaries to prevent crossover voting by Democrats and independents. It asks a federal judge to strike down as unconstitutional Montana laws allowing any registered voter to participate in any party primary. Attorney Matthew Monforton of Bozeman filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee. Monforton is a state House candidate who successfully pushed the state Republican Party this spring to add support of a closed-primary system to its platform. “What we’re seeking are the kinds of primaries that most other states have in which Republicans select their own nominees,” he said.