Re: Move to North Dakota if you really want a secret

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Thu Aug 05 2004 - 10:28:06 CDT

|On Aug 5, 2004, at 7:50 AM, Alan Dechert wrote:
|> I contend that revealing your party when you vote in a primary is a
|> compromise of the right to a secret ballot.

"Douglas W. Jones" <jones@cs.uiowa.edu> wrote:
|This depends entirely on what you believe should be the role of the
|primary. Is a primary election primarily a matter of internal party
|governance,

Doug is--as usual--spot on here.

Some state parties decide to have open primaries--or semi-open. I've
given the example of my state (Massachusetts), where -unenrolled- voters
can join a party at the polls (but you cannot change party there if
you're already enrolled). Other states allow same-day change of party
affiliation in all cases. And still other states don't require any
party affiliation to vote in a primary at all. For all of these states,
there might be something to Alan's point.

But another large batch of state parties restrict primary voting to
"established" party members (closed primaries). Generally, that
established membership means that a voter has affiliated with a party
(by declaring their membership) for a period of time before the primary
election. Three to six months is a typical time period requirement. I
don't know of state parties that require more establishment of
membership--but I am pretty confident there would be nothing illegal in
requiring additional actions (financial donations, attendance at party
meetings, etc) for primary eligibility.

We might personally decide we prefer the North Dakota system (or we
might not). But I don't think OVC is in a position to simply declare
that the membership system of particular state party is the right or
wrong one. The various affiliation requirements all seem -reasonable-
to me; obviously pros and cons can be argued for each.

Of course, there are many jurisdictions where the party primary
effectively *IS* the election. Some US congressional seats are
gerrymandered strongly Republican, and others (but fewer now) are
gerrymandered Democrat. In those cases, whoever wins the primary gets
the office--and probably the various voting access and civil rights acts
have some bite on the conduct of primaries. But even there, I don't
think they require open primaries per se, just open party membership.

Yours, David...
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:03 2004

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