Cyndi Miller Commentary: Tennessee Election Laws Make Fraud Legal in the Form of Cross-Over Primary Voting

by Cyndi Miller


Primaries are not for everyone. They are for the members of each party to nominate who will represent their party in the general elections – the candidates that best represent the beliefs and platform of that particular political party.

Should the members of the Rotary Club allow the members of the Lion’s Club to participate in the election of the Rotary Club President? Should just anyone in that city, whether or not they are a member of either club, be allowed to vote? Of course not! Democrats and Independents should not be allowed to vote in Republican primaries. Likewise, Republicans and Independents should not be allowed to vote in Democrat primaries.

Does this really happen in Tennessee? Yes! For instance, in Williamson County, Democrat candidates for the State House of Representatives and County Commission “crossed over”, voting in the May Republican Primary election. These Democrats didn’t even vote for themselves in their own primaries!

Tennessee law states that only “bona fide” members of a party should participate in that party’s primary.  The voter effectively signs a pledge of loyalty to that party when they request a ballot for that party. Clearly, a candidate running as a Democrat is not a “bona fide” member of the Republican Party. They made a false affidavit. Yet the local District Attorney refused to prosecute this obvious violation of election law stating the law was “ambiguous.”

The intention of Tennessee’s election law is that ONLY members of a party should participate in that party’s primary. Sadly, the law currently has a weak provision for preventing cross-over voting. Each party is allowed to “challenge” voters at the polling locations if the party believes that voter is not a member of their party. For this to work, the parties must staff all of the polling locations, quickly identify people who may not be members of their party – as the voters request ballots – and immediately issue a “challenge” to each such voter before they are allowed to vote.

The challenge process gets more complicated from there. This labor-intensive procedure is never used in practice. Thus, Tennessee’s primaries, which are technically supposed to be closed, are truly open.

Cross-over voting is deceitful – and it’s against the law. But this fraud is allowed to happen in Tennessee without punishment. In a “red” state like Tennessee, it only serves to heighten the influence of Democrats and their values in the election of REPUBLICAN nominees for office.

A good first-step to preventing this fraud is to require voters to register their party affiliation in advance of the primaries. This is not a perfect solution, but will significantly reduce the fraud.

This Saturday, December 1, the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee will consider a resolution which recommend that the General Assembly pass a bill to close the primaries. As a Republican SEC member, I will vigorously support that resolution to help stem the fraud and to make sure only Republicans are nominating Republicans. Tennessee needs closed primaries and if Republican leaders act now we can get that done.

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Cyndi Miller lives in Williamson County and is a Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committeewoman, District 23.
Photo “Cyndi Miller” by Vote Cyndi Miller.






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12 Thoughts to “Cyndi Miller Commentary: Tennessee Election Laws Make Fraud Legal in the Form of Cross-Over Primary Voting”

  1. Chris Mallory

    The answer is simple., if you want closed primaries, then the parties themselves should hold the elections and pay for them out of party funds. The tax payers should not be paying for closed primaries.

  2. […] principled supporters – such as Cyndi Miller. Mrs. Miller has written an excellent commentary on why current Tennessee law is wrong on this issue and why it is imperative that the primaries be […]

  3. […] principled supporters – such as Cyndi Miller. Mrs. Miller has written an excellent commentary on why current Tennessee law is wrong on this issue and why it is imperative that the primaries be […]

  4. Mark Russell

    The author uses a false analogy when comparing voting for a Rotary Club President to voting for a government representative. A club president does not make policy for all of us. It is important for citizens to have a say in who represents us in out representative republic government, and that means all citizens. Do not squelch the right to participate by voting in our representative democracy. It is un-American!

    1. John Bumpus

      IT LOOKS TO ME LIKE THE DEMS WANT TO CONTROL EVERYTHING—the choosing of their party’s nominee AND the choosing of the Republican party’s nominee too.

      I would guess that your approach Mr. Russell is how the people of Arizona (i.e., insert here the name of any other state) got a REPUBLICAN nominee for the U. S. Senate like Jeff Flake (i.e., insert here the name of any other FAITHLESS Republican officeholder in the country) to present to all of the people of the State in the General Election—and then the people of our country got a SENATOR Jeff Flake when the people of Arizona were FORCED to choose between Flake and the Dem in that state’s General Election.

      And all of this skullduggery didn’t do anyone any good, except the Dems! Is this what you want?

  5. Horatio Bunce

    The private political club elections called “primaries” are not constitutionally required. Your vote in these private club elections is not a right. That is how they can throw them away, change the rules on the fly, make committed Jeb! and Rubio delegate losers into Trump delegates for the convention, or how Santorum can be declared the nominee when he had zero delegates on the ballot. Now if the private political clubs want to pay for their own “rotary club” meetings, that’s fine, but instead they use public funds, public buildings, taxpayer-funded voting machines and the state employees to oversee. Why should anyone outside these private political clubs have to fund their club elections? It is only the Big Two that whine about this, and they are the only ones taking public money for their club elections. It’s very easy to make them closed – pay for it yourself.

  6. Sherrie Orange

    Excellent analogy, Cindy Miller and 100% correct.

  7. Aaron Shane

    Share Share Share kids! Well said Mrs. Miller!

  8. Stuart I. Anderson

    How long will we conservatives allow the centrist/tepid conservative Republican leadership get away with using liberal Independents and Democrats to nominate their chosen candidates in Republican primaries? The problem is conservatives aren’t organized while the Republican leadership is. The only thing we can do is vote with our checkbooks and credit cards and we should do so paraphrasing those famous words from American history “Millions For Conservative Candidates! Not a Penny For the Republican Party!” The centrists/tepid conservatives want to control the party, LET THEM PAY FOR IT!

  9. John Bumpus

    I completely agree with Ms. Miller. This proposal is long overdue. I hope that the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee (SEC) approves this proposal. And then, I hope that the Tennessee General Assembly heeds the recommendation of the Tennessee Republican SEC and enacts this proposal into law. Our Republic is a representative democracy. Political party nominees ought to represent the views of the members of that particular political party, and not the ‘watered down’ views of a party nominee chosen, in part, by ‘ringers’ who try to sabotage the process.

    And one other thought–a political party nominee ought to have majority support, and not just the support of a plurality of the party’s voters. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote in his party primary, the top two vote-getters in that primary election should face each other in a run-off election held soon after the initial primary election so that a majority-supported party nominee is chosen to represent the party in the general election. This seems only fair.

  10. Wolf Woman

    Thank you Cyndi for writing about this problem. Cross-over voting has been and will be exploited by progressive leftists until Republicans stop it.

  11. Kevin

    This is EXACTLY why we have watered down conservative Republican officeholders, like Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander and Bill Haslam! How much do you wanna bet that the Haslam/Alexander machine comes in and squashes this effort on Saturday, or when the legislation makes it’s way to the State General Assembly? Maybe our newly elected Senator, Congressmen and Governor will chime in and call for doing the right thing.

    It’s time for Tennessee to take the lead and show this Country what it means to truly be Conservative! Close the Primaries!