Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

GOP Attacks Voting Rights in Virginia

Virginia has an open primary, meaning that voters who are registered for either party, or registered independent, can decide on primary day which party's primary election (just one) they wish to participate in. The Virginia GOP is now going to require loyalty oaths from anyone voting in the Republican primary. The problem is that these oaths are worded thus: "I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for President." This is insidious. The stated intent is to dissuade Democratic voters from meddling in the primary. However, many people, particularly older people, are likely to believe that this means they have promised to vote Republican no matter what in the general election. As a lawyer, I frequently see that non-lawyers place quite a bit of stock in things that look and feel like contracts. I can easily foresee the Virginia GOP mailing back copies of these oaths to voters before the election with statements like, "time to fulfil your promise - vote Republican." Many people will seriously believe that, as a matter of personal honor, they need to honor the commitment to vote for the GOP. Republicans should not be allowed to wheedle these statements out of voters, even if they are legally nonenforceable. I hope a legal challenge is brought soon to quash this. Unfortunately, Democrats in VA prefer just to make fun of it right now, thinking that it is a "win" for them to portray the GOP as pushing independents away. That's a good tactic, because it is offensive and offputting to independents, but a legal challenge is important.


Raised By Republicans said...

I don't have a problem in principle with parties restricting access to their candidate selection mechanisms to their own members. So I'm not such a huge fan of open primaries in the first place. Perhaps we can have a discussion about open primaries in another posting.

But I have to say I'm bothered by the Republican tactic here. I think LTG is right about how many voters will feel locked in. Suppose you are an independent who votes in the Republican primary for a candidate that eventually loses the nomination. Why should you then be told that you must then vote for the Republican that beat him?

I think it is far better to simply say that if you want to vote in a party's primary or caucus you have to be a "card carrying member" of that party. Of course there is no rule that says Democrats can't jump ship and vote for Republicans in the general election or that Republcians can't vote for Democrats.

USwest said...

I thought loyality oaths were unconstitutional. Card carrying isn't. But oaths . . . to a party over your nation!?

The Law Talking Guy said...

Virginia has an open primary, so the parties have to deal with that. The solution is not a loyalty oath, but requiring anyone to "join" the GOP when they sign up to vote.