EDITORIAL: Keep political primaries in the state closed


Given the great degree of voter apathy and low voter turnout, the fear of candidates with extreme views winning elections based on a small sample of voters, and the fact that millions of independent voters are left out of the electoral process, it would be tempting to open up the state’s primaries to all voters — regardless of party affiliation.

So-called “open primaries” – which are gaining in popularity and practice nationwide – would mean Democrats could vote in Republican primaries, Republicans could vote in Democratic primaries, and independents could vote in either primary they wish.

But for all the good arguments for opening up the process, there is one argument for keeping the primaries closed that tops them all.

The whole purpose of primaries is to allow a political party to select its own candidates to run in the general election.

If you open up primaries to non-party voters, you’re taking away the decision-making power from the members of that party and potentially selecting candidates that the party membership doesn’t want running under their banner in the general election.

What open primaries do is contaminate the process for selecting candidates.

In some state primaries this year, such as in Georgia and Wyoming, Democrats and independents were encouraged to vote in Republican primaries to hurt Republicans.

Some Democratic voters who dislike Donald Trump, for instance, were voting in GOP primaries for more moderate candidates who oppose Trump’s policies.

In other primaries, independent and opposition party voters were voting for the candidate who would have the least chance of winning in the general election in order to give their own party’s candidate a better shot in November.

In some cases, voters were taking advantage of short deadlines for registration and changing their enrollments so they could vote in another party’s primary.

In practicality, those outside voters were subverting the will of the party’s members.

If you’re a member of a political party, you should be able to trust that you’re only voting among fellow party members.

If someone from the outside your party comes in and votes, your vote as a party member counts less and your party is more likely to pick a candidate that the majority of voters in your party don’t want.

That’s unfair and wrong.

Many argue that the number of outside voters voting in opposition party primaries is exceedingly small, so why worry? But in close races, a few votes can be the difference.

Many also argue that because independent voters are forced to sit out party primaries, they’re being disenfranchised from the election process.

But that’s not true.

Every registered voter, regardless of party affiliation or non-affiliation, is allowed to vote for whomever they wish — in the general election.

In our electoral system, the parties are entitled to select for themselves their own candidates to represent them.

That’s how it should be.

And that’s how it should stay.

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