open primary

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Utah: Democratic chief claims county clerks are running a GOP registration drive | The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon is complaining that county clerks statewide are essentially running a taxpayer-funded drive to register new Republicans. But election officials say he is misconstruing their efforts, which are aimed at helping voters receive whichever by-mail party ballot they choose in time for the June 28 primary. The dispute comes, in part, because 20 of the state’s 29 counties are conducting elections mostly by mail this year. So clerks wrote letters to the 41 percent of Utahns who are not affiliated with any party, asking whether they want a Democratic or Republican ballot. Letters warn that if voters choose to receive a GOP ballot, they will then be registered as Republicans. That’s because the GOP allows only registered Republicans to vote in its closed primary, but Democrats allow anyone of any party to vote in its open primary.

Full Article: Democratic chief claims county clerks are running a GOP registration drive | The Salt Lake Tribune.

California: ‘Open Primary’ law confuses voters ahead of presidential primary | KSBW

It’s unlikely anyone would find this year’s presidential primary boring, but some California voters are finding the upcoming June primary a little confusing. “I was expecting to see both parties and that you could make a choice,” said voter Rosetta Winston. Christine Krynak also said she expected to see candidates from both parties. In 2011 a new “Open Primary” law took effect in California that’s left some voters thinking when it comes to the June 7 presidential primary, they can vote for any of the candidates, regardless of their party preference. But that’s not quite how it works because the Open Primary law does not apply to candidates running for president.

Full Article: 'Open Primary' law confuses voters ahead of presidential primary | Local News - KSBW Home.

Virginia: GOP vote surge in Northern Virginia definitely included some Democrats | The Washington Post

Did Democratic “crossover” voters in Virginia help fuel the state’s extraordinary surge in Republican voting on Super Tuesday? More than twice as many GOP ballots were cast on Tuesday than had been submitted in the 2008 presidential primary. Part of the increase was undoubtedly because of the tumultuous nature of this year’s Republican primary, and the fact that there are still many candidates jostling for votes. But interviews at the polls and posts on social media showed that at least a slice of those voters were people who planned to vote Democratic in the fall, but took advantage of Virginia’s open-primary law to try to impact the Republican race. “Lifelong Democrat here and I cast my first vote for a Republican yesterday in the VA primary,” Liz Odar, an Arlington millennial, said in an email. “I decided my vote was better used as a vote against Trump.”

Full Article: GOP vote surge in Northern Va. definitely included some Democrats - The Washington Post.

New Mexico: Independents Lose Bid for Open Primaries | New Mexico In Depth

A plan to amend the state Constitution to let independents vote in primaries was tabled Monday by the House Judiciary Committee. One of the sponsors, Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Bernalillo, said the proposal (HJR 12) would get more New Mexicans involved in the political process. He cited record low voter turnout and a growing population of independent voters. “I’m a firm believer in the idea that, if folks vote in the primaries, they’ll also vote in November,” Maestas told members of the Committee.

Full Article: Independents Lose Bid for Open Primaries | New Mexico In Depth.

Alaska: Democrats want to allow independents in party primary | Associated Press

Alaska Democratic party leaders have approved allowing candidates not affiliated with a political party to run in the Democratic primary. In a letter to state election officials provided by the party late Tuesday afternoon, party chair Casey Steinau said that Democrats believe a state law requiring a candidate seeking a party’s nomination to be a registered voter of that party to be unconstitutional and unenforceable. A memo prepared for the party by an attorney with a Washington, D.C., firm concluded that a political party’s freedom of association is likely to be found to include the right to allow non-affiliated candidates to seek that party’s nomination and that state law prohibiting that is likely to be held unconstitutional. 

Full Article: Alaska Democrats want to allow independents in party primary - Washington Times.

Utah: State, GOP appear headed to court over election law — again | KSL

A federal judge Monday permanently barred the state from forcing political parties to hold open primary elections and dismissed all other claims in the Utah Republican Party’s lawsuit. As U.S. District Judge David Nuffer closed the case, the Utah GOP and the state continued to wrangle over the meaning of part of the law, setting the stage for another court battle, possibly before the Utah Supreme Court. Meantime, Gov. Gary Herbert told the Republican State Central Committee over the weekend that he wishes he would have vetoed the controversial new election law and let voters decide the issue as proposed by the Count My Vote initiative.

Full Article: State, Utah GOP appear headed to court over election law — again | KSL.com.

Utah: GOP, state appear headed to court on new election law — again | Deseret News

A federal judge Monday permanently barred the state from forcing political parties to hold open primary elections and dismissed all other claims in the Utah Republican Party’s lawsuit. As U.S. District Judge David Nuffer closed the case, the Utah GOP and the state continued to wrangle over the meaning of part of the law, setting the stage for another court battle, possibly before the Utah Supreme Court. Meantime, Gov. Gary Herbert told the Republican State Central Committee over the weekend that he wishes he would have vetoed the controversial new election law and let voters decide the issue as proposed by the Count My Vote initiative.

Full Article: Utah GOP, state appear headed to court on new election law — again | Deseret News.

Montana: Federal judge, GOP lawyer have lively exchanges over open-primaries | Associated Press

In a hearing on a lawsuit to restrict Republican primary elections to party members only in Montana, a federal judge Thursday questioned whether non-Republican voters are actively crossing over to vote in and influence GOP legislative primaries here. “So, voters are going to give up their right to vote for the president, the U.S. Senate and congressional (candidates of their own party) … to vote to screw up the other guy’s legislative candidates?” asked U.S. District Judge Brian Morris. “You’re telling me that happens regularly?” Matthew Monforton, a lawyer representing numerous GOP central committees, told Morris it does happen – and that’s why Republicans should be allowed to close their primary elections to members only.

Full Article: Federal judge, GOP lawyer have lively exchanges over open-primar - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana.

Arizona: Open primary group facing GOP challenge on financial disclosure | Arizona Daily Sun

A group working to change election laws and tighten up rules on “dark money” is facing a complaint that it is illegally hiding the source of its own cash. Tim LaSota, attorney for the Arizona Republican Party, said that former gubernatorial hopeful Paul Johnson is taking donations and spending money to craft an initiative for the 2016 ballot. LaSota said that means he needs to comply with campaign finance laws. But Johnson, who previously was the mayor of Phoenix, said he is doing nothing illegal. He said the requirement to report is triggered by actually coming up with specific language to put on the ballot, something that has not yet occurred. Only then, Johnson said, need he disclose who is financing the effort.

Full Article: Open primary group facing GOP challenge on financial disclosure.

Montana: Deputy attorney general withdraws from closed primary case | The Missoulian

A deputy attorney general will no longer be defending the state in a Republican challenge to the state’s open primary elections after the party accused him of misconduct. Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion, a Republican, filed a motion Friday to withdraw as counsel from the case. “I submit this notice of withdrawal in order to prevent future misunderstandings with the Montana Republican Party and to facilitate future communications,” Bennion said in court documents. Two other attorneys from Attorney General Tim Fox’s office will continue to defend the state in the case calling for primaries in which voters can only cast ballots for candidates in their own party.

Full Article: Deputy attorney general withdraws from closed primary case.

Arizona: Independents still get GOP primary vote | Arizona Daily Sun

Arizona’s nearly 1.2 million political independents will be able to continue to influence who Republicans nominate for office, at least for the foreseeable future. The executive committee of the Arizona Republican Party on Saturday rejected a proposal to try to close future primaries and limit participation to the 1.1 million who are officially members of the Grand Old Party. Party spokesman Tim Sifert said committee members concluded it made no sense to try to challenge a 1998 voter-approved measure which paved the way for independents to vote. That vote came despite a recommendation from state precinct committeemen to shut out the independents. But Sifert said such a legal move might cost $75,000. And he said only the executive committee can spend party money.

Full Article: Independents still get GOP primary vote.

Voting Blogs: All in the Family: New Jersey Closed Primaries Challenged | State of Elections

This past August the United States District Court in New Jersey dismissed a complaint brought by voters and independent interest groups to open state primaries and prevent the state from funding closed primaries. The coalition, formed by Endpartisanship.org, is appealing to the Third Circuit to end state funded primaries for the two major parties. Their complaint alleges that the New Jersey statute impermissibly funds closed primaries to the detriment of unaffiliated candidates and voters generally. Endpartisanship.org is a coalition of various groups that believe the two party system has been unfairly supported by the states and that the taxpayer funds supporting the parties creates an unfair advantage to the detriment of independent candidates. This is their first lawsuit as a coalition and it seems that they may have hit a major roadblock.

Full Article: All in the Family: New Jersey Closed Primaries Challenged : State of Elections.

Editorials: For 2016, bring back Colorado’s presidential primary | The Denver Post

Two political scientists at Colorado College made the case in The Sunday Denver Post that lawmakers should open up the next presidential primary in this state to wider voter participation. But Thomas E. Cronin and Robert D. Loevy aren’t just lonely voices in the wilderness in this belief. Others have raised similar questions over the years about the wisdom of relying on a low-turnout caucus system to select the parties’ presidential favorites. Indeed, a group known as Colorado Open Voting is hoping to reform the caucus system this year through legislation, according to spokesman Curtis Hubbard — if sponsors can be found at the Capitol. Let’s hope lawmakers step up and a resulting bill reflects some of the principles espoused by Cronin and Loevy. The present system in which a relatively small slice of activists attend local caucuses to determine the presidential candidate that each party supports has the effect of limiting both public interest and participation — as well as the influence of Colorado in the presidential selection process.

Full Article: For 2016, bring back Colorado's presidential primary - The Denver Post.

Connecticut: Republican Party Reflects On Electoral Process After November Losses | CT News Junkie

The Republican Party hasn’t won a statewide election in Connecticut since 2006. This year’s defeat has the party leadership questioning where it can improve the electoral process. Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. announced the formation of an Election Reforms Subcommittee earlier this month at a Republican State Central Committee meeting. He charged the 13-member committee to report its findings by Jan. 27. “I’ve placed no boundaries on the subcommittee,” Labriola said last week. “Everything’s on the table.” That means everything, including an open primary system that would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in choosing the Republican Party’s nominee. Former Gov. Lowell Weicker, a Republican-turned-independent, has been advocating for the Republican Party to switch to an open primary system for years.

Full Article: CT News Junkie | Republican Party Reflects On Electoral Process After November Losses.

Voting Blogs: Mississippi’s Newfound Frustration With Open Primaries | State of Elections

Mississippi garnered unexpected national attention this summer as its system of open primary voting became a contributor to the wider debate of how best to fairly and legitimately select candidates and representatives. If you haven’t been paying attention, Mississippi’s long running Republican Senator, Thad Cochran, came very close to losing his seat to Tea Party Conservative Chris McDaniel in a rather ugly, tight primary race. In an effort to overcome his challenger in a runoff election, Cochran strategically capitalized on Mississippi’s use of open primary voting by asking traditionally Democratic voters to support him in the primary runoff against his far more conservative opponent. In a state where Democrats’ primary voters turned out in less than half the number of participants as the Republican primary, Cochran’s gambit to garner those as-yet uncast primary votes could be considered borderline tactical genius. McDaniel and his supporters are pretty sure, however, that it should be considered less than legal.

Full Article: Mississippi’s Newfound Frustration With Open Primaries : State of Elections.

Editorials: The Primary Puzzle: what role do primaries play in shaping election results? | NCSL

Where primary elections are concerned, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. And for years, political thinkers have debated what effect the design of a state’s primary has on electoral results. In this age of sharp partisan polarization—when primaries often determine who occupies the seat more than the general election does—the question of how primaries can shape results has become increasingly urgent. High-profile congressional upsets in recent primaries—House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia and Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi (although he later squeaked out a win  in the runoff)—have also drawn attention to the debate over which type of primary best reflects the will of the voters. Some political reformers see opening up primaries as a way to curb the influence of the parties’ ideological extremes, which tend to dominate in closed primaries that are open only to registered party members. But does wresting primaries from the control of only registered party members actually result in the election of candidates with more moderate views? Research suggests it’s, at best, an open question. Those who have studied the phenomenon say the hard evidence is under-whelming.

Full Article: The Primary Puzzle.

California: Same-party races force hard choices | Sacremento Bee

John McAtee, a 52-year-old voter from Elk Grove, isn’t happy about the state of his ballot this year. In two legislative contests, the Republican will not have a candidate of his own party to choose from. For state Assembly, he can pick between Democrats Jim Cooper and Darrell Fong. For state Senate, his choices are Democrats Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan. He considers the scenario one drawback of living in a heavily Democratic area. “I am not moving, but you take your lumps,” McAtee said. A reverse scenario is playing out in a Roseville-centered congressional district, where veteran conservative Rep. Tom McClintock is challenged by fellow Republican Art Moore. More than 116,000 Democrats there have no opportunity to select one of their own. Democrat Michael Adams said he’s met Moore at district events and also has attended McClintock’s town-hall meetings. Adams, a 68-year-old resident of Roseville, said the upcoming congressional contest boils down to this: “Voting for the lesser of two evils is what I have to do.” In California, 25 same-party contests populate the fall ballot, intraparty battles made possible by voter-approved Proposition 14 in June 2010. Under the measure, the top two candidates regardless of party advance to the general election.

Full Article: California same-party races force hard choices | State News | FresnoBee.com.

Montana: Lawsuit seeks to close open primaries to prevent party crossover | NBCMontana

Attorney Matthew Monforton of Bozeman filed a federal lawsuit Monday, in District Court on behalf of the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee. It names Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and Ravalli County’s election administrator as defendants. Monforton is a State House candidate who successfully pushed the state Republican Party this spring to add support of closed primaries to its platform. Monforton said he filed the lawsuit with the 2016 elections in mind. He said he expects other county political committees to join it. McCullouch declined to comment, as did Ravalli County Elections Supervisor Regina Plettenberg. Ravalli County Republican Chairman Terry Nelson referred questions to Monforton.

Full Article: Lawsuit seeks to close Montana's open primaries to prevent party crossover | Missoula Local News - NBCMontana.com.

Editorials: Open primaries something Dems, GOP can agree on | Albuquerque Journal

It’s rare in New Mexico when Democrats and Republicans see eye-to-eye on an issue. So it’s refreshing to see Republican Gov. Susana Martinez support a reasonable plan put forth by two Democrats, Sen. Bill O’Neill and Rep. Emily Kane, that would open up party primaries to independent voters. O’Neill and Kane plan to introduce legislation in January that would allow voters who decline to state a party affiliation to choose whether to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary, but not in both. Members of a party could not vote in the other party’s primary, which had been a sticking point for many partisans. The goal is to increase voter participation – only about 20 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the June primary – and to attract young voters who increasingly don’t want to affiliate with either party.

Full Article: Editorial: Open primaries something Dems, GOP can agree on | Albuquerque Journal News.

Editorials: Write-in scam cheats other voters | Joe Brown/Tampa Tribune

A judge in Tallahassee disqualified a write-in candidate in the Florida House District 64 race Thursday because the write-in didn’t live in the district. As a result, what was a closed primary election between two Republicans scheduled for Aug. 26 now will be open to all voters in November — as it should be. District 64, which runs from Safety Harbor in Pinellas County to Carrollwood in Hillsborough, is set up to lean Republican, so much so that Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate to challenge incumbent Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa. Grant did manage to draw a Republican challenger, however, in Miriam Steinberg, a Tampa engineer. Still, at that time all voters in the district were eligible to vote in the primary. Florida mandates an open primary if members of only one party are on the ballot and there are no other candidates running in the general election because the winner of the primary automatically wins the general election.

Full Article: Write-in scam cheats other voters | TBO.com, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times.