PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts


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  1. This is interesting. What would be the logic of banning crossover voting in the first round of a two-round primary, yet allowing it in a runoff (or vice versa)? I pondered this for a bit and could not come up with one.

    Of course, closed vs. open is not really dichotomous, but rather a continuum. New Hampshire, for example, allows independents to decide on election day which party primary they will vote in (at least for presidential primaries). But voters who register with a party are not permitted to cross over. That is sometimes called “semi-open.”

    California and Washington used to have the “blanket primary” which is even more open than what is usually defined as an open primary. Under the blanket primary, a voter can vote for a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for one office, a candidate seeking the Democratic nomination in another, and a Green in yet another on primary day. The US Supreme Court overturned that system, saying (in effect) that it violated the rights of parties as organizations to decide who may associate with them.

    And then, of course, there is the so-called nonpartisan primary-used in Louisiana and supported by some unhappy advocates of California’s now-banned blanket primary. As Steven has noted recently, “nonpartisan primary” is an oxymoron. If there is no partisan criteria in the process at all, it’s not a primary. It’s just a two-round majority runoff in whch the runoff (if needed) might even be between two candidates of the same party.

    California provides now for party option. I forget which party has which rules (and, given how I feel about both parties, I don’t much care), but one of the major parties lets voters who opt for “decline to state” rather than to register with a party to vote in its primary, while the other allows only those registered with the party to vote in its primary.

    Comment by Matthew — Sunday, February 5, 2006 @ 2:40 pm

  2. Indeed on the open/closed dichotomy. But, of course, with 800-1000 words, one can only cover so much :)

    The crossover business, and its ban in the Democratic primary but not the GOP primary has it roots in the state’s one-party past.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Sunday, February 5, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

  3. Yes, fortunately for me, you do not restricy my comment space-yet! :-)

    So, let’s try a short version: “Primaries vary in the extent to which voters not registered with a party may participate in the nomination of that party’s candidates in some or all the contests on the ballot.”

    It makes sense (kind of) that a second party that is much smaller than the leading party in the state would want to accept cross-over votes.

    But I’m still not clear on whether I understood correctly that the rules on crossing over are different in the first and second rounds of a primary in Alabama. If I understood correctly, what is the rationale for that?

    Comment by Matthew — Monday, February 6, 2006 @ 6:20 pm

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