Separate party primaries violate voters’ privacy rights
One of the toughest decisions facing voters Tuesday was made at the registration table without the benefit of a curtain. According to state law, citizens can only vote in one party’s primary, therefore everyone who wanted to participate on Tuesday had to declare, out loud, in public, whether they wanted a Republican or a Democratic ballot.
In a primary election with only a handful of races in contention, announcing one’s ballot choice said a lot more than some may have wanted to reveal about who they plan to vote for.
For instance, in order to vote for one of the two Republican contenders for the state Senate seat in our area, a voter had to be registered as a Republican. But that meant he or she could not vote in the hotly contested Democratic primaries for county assessor and county clerk.
For those citizens who closely follow local politics, being forced to pick one race at the expense of another is extremely disappointing, especially in a year when the Republican and Democratic contests did not overlap.
Due to the importance of the state Senate seat, several citizens who traditionally prefer to align themselves with the Democratic Party platform, admitted to registering as Republicans just to make their voice heard in that race.
Republicans who chose to vote in the Democratic races on Tuesday didn’t have to take quite as drastic a step. They didn’t have to register as Democrats but they did have to ask (politely) for a Democratic ballot, which was probably painful enough.
But even those who didn’t have to cross party lines to vote for the candidates they supported should have been affronted by having to disclose which ticket they wanted to take into the voting booth. Especially in smaller communities, where voters often are on a first-name basis with the candidates and the volunteers manning the registration table, there should be a way to put all of the primary candidates on one ballot and still ensure that voters do not vote both sides of the ticket in the same race.
The state laws and the Republicans’ insistence on allowing only registered party members to cast ballots in their primaries are anti-American and should be abolished before the next round of primary elections.
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