A bill in this year’s Tennessee General Assembly would, if enacted into law, require people register with a political party before they vote in any Tennessee primaries.
State Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, sponsors the bill.
According to TNJ: On the Hill, Holt’s bill advanced on a voice vote in the Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee Wednesday.
Not all Republicans, however, are reportedly keen on the idea.
“Former Republican Gov. Bill Haslam called closing primaries ‘a silly proposal,’ arguing that if the change had been made earlier, it would have been much harder for Republicans to get to the position of power they’re in today,” TNJ: On the Hill reported.
“Gov. Bill Lee, who won the Republican nomination amid record turnout in last year’s gubernatorial primary, was similarly dubious about the proposal, telling reporters that ‘the current system we have is working.’”
According to the website, anyone in Tennessee can vote in a party primary if they are affiliated with it. In other cases, the voter must declare allegiance to that political party in a primary in which they intend to vote.
“The law has been interpreted to mean that seeking a party ballot is a declaration of allegiance. In practice, many Tennesseans choose to vote in whichever primary is more compelling, meaning their allegiance and affiliation may last for as little as a single election,” TNJ: On the Hill reported.
“Supporters of closed primaries argue that under the current system, crossover voters could help a weaker candidate win the nomination, who would then have a harder time prevailing in the general election. Another refrain is that open primaries give moderate candidates a better chance of winning primaries.”
Nine states have closed primary systems, the website reported.
Also as TNJ: On the Hill reported, Tennessee Democrats tried to close the primaries after doing well politically in the 1970s, but Republicans thwarted those plans.
This time, as the website went on to say, the roles have reversed.