What do y’all think about party registration in Georgia?

Currently, Georgia is one of twenty states with an open primary system in which anyone can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary. The voters “declare” their political affiliation on the day of the primary election.

Across the nation, there are 27 states, including 4 in the South (Kentucky, West Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina) that have closed primaries.

As a matter of personal opinion, I believe that Georgia needs to enact legislation that closes it primaries and only allows those voters who have registered with a particular political party, prior to the primary, to vote in that particular party’s primary election.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

45 comments

  1. Inside_Man says:

    I think the best argument FOR an open primary is that the DeKalb GOP/Independents were able to kick McKinney out of her seat. In a pre-registered primary contest, that would have been impossible.

  2. Ben Marshall says:

    Why is the current situation bad? What argument is there that we truly need closed primaries b/c it will Voters are only allowed more power over their vote by having open primaries.

  3. Loren says:

    I love the open primary system, and I think one of its biggest benefits is well-illustrated by last year’s House race results.

    Out of 13 general election races, consisting only of Republicans and Democrats, 11 of them had winners that amassed over 2/3 of the vote. These winners included both Democrats and Republicans. If the minority-party voters in any of those 11 districts wanted a real say in the result, they had to vote in the primary.

    And 2006 was an improvement over 2004, where 6 out of the 13 races were simply unopposed, because it was obvious the primary victor would take the seat. In those 6 races, waiting until the general election to vote meant you literally didn’t have a choice at all.

    McKinney illustrates who benefits the most from a closed primary system: incumbents. When an office-holder is already insulated from serious opposition from an outside party, the closed primary system helps to insure against opposition from within one’s own party, by excluding half the voting public.

  4. MountainThinker says:

    Andre,
    And now we know why the Dems can’t win the South…they think West Virginia is a Southern state, and by the way, Kentucky is at best on probation as a southern state, and Florida is a quasi-Southern state, especially south of Orlando…

  5. CHelf says:

    Think of the other races where crossovers have ‘meddled’ – Broun vs. Whitehead and Reed vs. Cagle. It’s a mixed bag as far as desired results.

  6. drjay says:

    i have much less of a problem w/ gop’s occasionally voting in dem primaries if they feel led to do so than i do w/ dem’s meddling in the nominating process of the gop.

  7. Carpe Forem says:

    What you call meddling, I call vetting. You have the best chance of majority representation in an open primary system. Yes, it is sometimes used to vote against someone with high negatives. But isn’t that an overall good for a representative republic.

  8. EAVDad says:

    I think it’s important in a state like Georgia to have open primaries.

    So many of the races here are essentially over on primary day. If a Republican lives in Atlanta where I do and wants a say in the local election, then he or she needs to vote in the Democratic primary (since a Republican hasn’t run for office in my district in forever).

    Of course that voter has to choose whether they are more interested in the Republican or Democrat parties.

    It was essentially the same issue with McKinney in the 4th District. I would argue that Republicans in the 4th had a RIGHT to cast a vote in that election and since a Republic doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in the 4th, that’s how you do it.

  9. Doug Deal says:

    The primaries need to go away, at least state funded primaries. This should be replaced by a free-for all election in late summer, with the general election acting as the runoff for the top 2.

    Primaries for parties should not be funded by the state if third parties have so many barriers to being included on ballots. If we are going to have open primaries, then they should be completely open, and everyone should run against everyone else.

    Regardless of party status, there should be the same qualification requirements for each candidate, the same fees paid by each candidate and really, I would prefer it if no party affiliation could be listed on the ballot.

  10. EAVDad says:

    Ya know, Doug. I don’t normally agree with you — but that’s not a bad idea. Then we could get away from “party” voting (since really what’s the difference anymore) and start focusing on people.

  11. Loren says:

    1) There was no Broun-Whitehead primary. That was a general election. Are you suggesting Democrats should have been excluded because both candidates were Republicans?

    2) Reed’s loss was not a desired result?

    There is one kind of crossover voting I highly disapprove of, but it’s so rarely (if ever) effective that it’s not really worth combating. It’s the notion of voters crossing over to vote for a candidate they they think is weaker, in the hopes that he’ll win his primary, and then be defeated by their preferred candidate in the general election.

    I’m not sure that such a campaign has ever actually been successful. It requires a rather high amount of organization and risk among a large number of voters.

  12. Painterman says:

    Close the Primaries. Republicans should vote for who their candidates will be and Democrats should vote for theirs.

  13. ChuckEaton says:

    It’s an interesting question Andre. I know due to open primaries we’ve been able to take out Cynthia, but I still wonder whether people voting in primaries should have a declared interest in the ideas and beliefs of the particular political party.

    If folks can vote in any primary they choose up to the moment they vote or they choose to vote in the opposition’s primary soley to wreck havoc on them, then doesn’t that defeat the point of a primary?

    That being said, I doubt it will ever be changed as folks in Georgia are accustomed to doing it this way and a change would cause too much controversy.

  14. ChuckEaton says:

    As a side note, I’m always a little humored when I meet a hardcore from either party here in Georgia and to emphasize their dedication they tell me they are a registered Republican or a registered Democrat.

  15. drjay says:

    i think i tend to be in favor of closed primaries, but not enough to get real fired up about it. i do think the parties involved should shoulder some of the cost of the primaries and it should not be paid for solely out of the states coffers (i actually assumed the parties did pay an amt. of money toward primaries, do they not??)

    i remember in 1992 there were a number of contested primaries in chatham county for what may have been the 1st time–and people were getting upset at the polls b/c they wanted a gop ballot for a county commission race and a dem ballot for the 1st district congressional race (or some other similar combination) and did not understand why they could not…

  16. ChuckEaton says:

    Dr. Jay-

    You bring up an interesting point regarding folks who like the flexiblity of voting in different primaries. You could have a very strong candidate in one primary (say County Sheriff) and he could pull a particular demographic out of the other primary, which in turn could hurt another candidate in the other primary who was also relying on that particular demographic.

  17. Andre Walker says:

    One thing that I’ll point out is that if we closed the primaries and required party registration, then a Georgia voter would have until 30 days before the primary election to register with either the Republican or Democratic parties in order to vote in their respective primary.

    On the point of the parties shouldering some of the costs of running the primaries, I’ll point out that the Democratic and Republican parties both get a certain percentage (I believe 50%) of the candidate’s qualifying fee. The other half goes to the Secretary of State to, I presume, pay for the cost of running each parties’ primary.

  18. Doug Deal says:

    EAVDad,

    See, I am not all THAT bad.

    Sadly, nothing will ever change, since the people in power benefit from the current rules, and would never work to decrease that. Now, if some plan were proposed to make it more difficult for them to lose, then it would be the first item on the agenda.

  19. We should definitely keep the primary open. If anything, we should consider going further in the open directory.

    Consider a primary where you can pick one candidate regardless of party in every race.

    So last year, it might have been:
    Vote Democrat in the Governor for Taylor
    Then Vote Republican in Lt Gov for Cagle
    Then back to the Democrats for Secretary of State
    Then skip over to the Republicans for State Senate
    Back to Dems for state House etc.

    In other words, an open primary for every single race on the ballot. Kind of like Louisiana although the top vote getter from each party would emerge as the nominee.

    So for instance, in a place like DeKalb County, if 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans run for State Senate, the vote might break down like this:
    35% D 1
    25% D 2
    20% R 1
    10% D 3
    5 % R 2
    5% R 3

    D1 and R1 will be in the general election, and anyone who wanted to vote in that race regardless of party wouldn’t have been prevented because of who was running in what party in another race.

    Anyway, something to think about and probably good for Democracy as more moderate voters of either party would always be able to vote against an extremist candidate they were worried might win a general election if only they could get their party’s nomination.

  20. JRM2016 says:

    The one problem I will acknowledge is that when you have local races in one party primary and voters want the choice to vote in one primary locally and another for state/federal offices. I don’t think closed registration helps anyone.

  21. SpaceyG says:

    My answer to leading question? Not much. More importantly, I keep clicking on the banner ads to the right by accident, and honestly, if it’s not for the Peach Pundid Kegel exercises, I don’t want that either.

  22. Nicki says:

    Yeah, but…what’s the point of a primary? If it is to allow each party to choose its one candidate, then registration makes perfect sense because it limits the other party from intentionally handicapping your party. If it’s just a winnowing process with no partisan meaning, then there’s no point in having it.

    IMO, nonpartisan elections are actually more difficult for independents, because they have to participate fully against party-backed candidates instead of only having to compete once the party-backed candidates have been winnowed down.

  23. EAVDad says:

    But Nicki,

    Isn’t it possible if elections were non-partisan, people would be more apt — in the long run — to run?

    I mean, personally, I know people who are pro-choice, anti-gay marriage, pro-small government, anti-death penalty. Ya know? The parties make you “choose” if you want to run. But most people don’t live in black and white…they live in grays.

  24. jsm says:

    “I think the best argument FOR an open primary is that the DeKalb GOP/Independents were able to kick McKinney out of her seat.”

    “I know due to open primaries we

  25. CHelf says:

    Loren,

    I never said the Broun-Whitehead race was a primary. I was referring to the whole concept of the results. It was not a general election either. A general election would have been a candidate from each party. It was unofficially a GOP election since both candidates were Republicans. You still had the same effect of Democrats crossing over to vote for one Republican over another.

    As for Reed vs. Cagle, I never implied Reed’s loss was or was not my personal desired results. The argument is that it backfires or works for both sides. There is no standard “It works every time” for either party.

    Since third parties are pretty much forced out of primary elections, does this prevent them from even voting at all? In other states, they are not eligible to vote in such primaries. Now they have a chance to influence either parties’ primaries.

  26. Painterman says:

    The purpose of a primary is to determine who will represent the party in the November election. It should be decided by the people who have an interest in those parties.

    People get all worked up when they hear about this and say “no, we need to keep this open and maybe even more so” but consider this, you have a Restaurant, would you allow your competitor to come in and have a say on what you have on the menu? You have a steak and potatoes place, but he’s a strict vegetarian, yet every time you go to make a menu he comes over and makes selections that you don’t like or want to have on your menu. Is that a fair system?

    What you do is make your menu and he makes his and let the general public decide with their feet as to which establishment they want to invest their time, money and trust in.

    Close the primaries, it’s the best way to have the best candidates of each party in the general election.

  27. Rick Day says:

    Ban political parties and vote on the person best for the job, not the hand picked status-quo ‘option’s’ The Duopoly ™ currently serves up.

    Oh, and throw in a NOTA as well.

  28. jm says:

    I don’t want a closed primary. I don’t trust the current federal gov’t from pulling the records and start shooting.

    OK…no we’re not there yet, but man, some days I read the news and it feels like it.

  29. Doug Deal says:

    Painterman,

    I think Rick means ban state recognition of political parties. There should be no mention of political parties in out state and federal laws. There should be no accommodation of parties in elections.

    If a political party wants to nominate by caucus or pay for their own primary, I say let them, but then that person should have to go through the same nonsense that any non party affiliated candidate has to go through to get on the ballot (petitioning, fees, etc).

    If every jurisdiction required a majority vote to elect a winner, I think we would also be much better off, as our political system would not be limited to two horrible parties vying for who is less bad.

  30. TPSoCal says:

    California has a quasi-closed primary that seems to work well. If you are registered to a particular party, you can only vote in that party’s primary. If you are registered as “undeclared” you can vote in either party’s primary, you decide when you show up to vote. This prevents die hards of any party from playing games in any other party’s primary. Each party decides whether to allow “undeclareds” to vote. No party would dare not allow them to vote as it would be very bad PR. Most people I know are undeclared just so they can vote in any primary. Another benefit is the parties do not seem to send all the junk mail to undeclareds. I can barely open my mailbox during primary season since I am on the list as a Republican.

  31. liberator says:

    This would make sense only if Georgia eased it’s draconian ballot access laws which make it harder for 3rd party candidates to be on the ballot in Georgia than in the former Soviet Union.

  32. Icarus says:

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