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News - Should cross-party voting be outlawed?

Yes. Parties deserve loyalty from their members.

A majority of Americans choose their respective political party nominees for the general election in what is called a closed primary. Georgians do not. We're one of 21 states that allow any registered voter to pick up a Republican or Democratic ballot on primary day. It's called an open primary. But don't fool yourself. There is nothing "open" about a political primary in which Democrat or Republican affiliation isn't worth a hill of beans.

The recent brouhaha over the role cross-party voting played in the Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr defeats is not the reason I favor party-registration-only primaries. Clearly in the case of the victors — Denise Majette and John Linder — neither outcome was determined by crossover voting. Political parties, however, should have an ideology, an identifiable bonding that allows those who agree more than disagree to decide who will face the other party in the general election.

Under Georgia's current election laws, you don't state party affiliation when you register; only when one enters the polling place does party preference come into play. While some may view this as a matter of choice, it also can lead to meddlesome manipulation of the process.

Some states allow those who call themselves independents to vote in party-only primaries. In New Hampshire, the independents are cherished and wooed, especially in the presidential primaries (McCain beat Bush on the strength of independents). I would favor such a system in Georgia; it might even enhance the primary selection process, which is flawed. It cheats like-minded partisans out of an opportunity to be partisan. When anybody of any political stripe can vote in a primary, why have primaries at all?

Obviously, party-only primaries would intensify competition within the party and make it the real deal. Selecting a nominee would actually mean the majority of voters in the primary were members of that party.

There was a time in American politics when general election candidates were chosen not by the voting populace but in the back rooms at state party conventions. Thankfully, those days are over. Party registration is hardly akin to closing the election process. We ought to be happy to claim our political affiliation, wear it proudly and participate in our party's effort to find the best person to compete in the general election.

It's time the Georgia General Assembly changed the election laws and allowed registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or whatever to have the right to choose who will represent them in the general election.

letters@creativeloafing.com??



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