Cross-party voting denied in primaries
Regarding open primary elections ("Kokua Line," Jan. 7
), what are the differences between Hawaii's open primary and open primaries in other states? It would be preferable to allow us to vote for any candidate in an election and cross party lines, for example, voting for a Democrat in a Senate race, Republican in a House race, Libertarian for City Council, etc. Why the differences in definition of open primaries?
Answer: What you described as being preferable is a "blanket primary."
An open primary is defined as an election in which voters can choose to vote for candidates of any political party but then can vote only for that one party.
No cross-party voting is allowed in any open primary, but there might be differences in how that open primary is held in different states.
In recent years four states -- California, Washington, Alaska and Louisiana -- held blanket primaries.
However, a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling -- California Democratic Party et al. v. Jones -- found that the state's blanket primary violated a party's right to select its nominees.
Today only Louisiana retains a form of the blanket primary -- the so-called "Cajun" or "jungle" primary -- in which the two top vote-getters in a race, regardless of party affiliation, go into a runoff. However, congressional races in Louisiana are subject to closed primaries, beginning this year.
Many states, meanwhile, have a closed primary system, in which only members registered to a particular party can vote on that party's ballot.
According to the nonprofit organization FairVote, the Center for Voting and Democracy, 25 states, plus the District of Columbia, have "potentially" closed primaries, 19 states have open primaries and six have variations with special provisions.
FairVote says it uses the term "potentially" closed because although voters are required to have a political party affiliation, parties are given the "option" to close their primaries.
It also says that "state and party rules change regularly and are often difficult to track with accuracy," and that some definitions of the primary process make it complicated to assign a category.
In a presidential election year like this one, political parties in many states also hold presidential primaries to help determine that party's nominee for president. Each state party has its own rules on who can vote.
In Hawaii neither the Democratic nor Republican party is holding a presidential primary.
Instead, the Democrats will hold caucuses on Tuesday, Feb. 19, to determine how to apportion delegates for their prospective nominees. Only registered members of the party and registered voters can participate. Party registration and voter registration forms will be available at the door.
The GOP held its caucuses Jan. 25 to Thursday, during which delegates to its May 16-18 state convention were chosen. No vote was taken on presidential candidates.
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