Close the Primaries
by Chris Bowers, Wed Feb 09, 2005 at 04:58:27 AM EST
The current primary system lets an undeclared voter cast either a Democratic or Republican Party ballot, then re-register as an undeclared voter before leaving the polling place.
Independent voters, who are not registered with either party, make up roughly a third of all New Hampshire voters.I am all for this. I do not believe that independents should be allowed to vote in partisan primaries. If you want to declare your personal independence, radical individualism, and remarkable ideological dissimilarity from any significant portion of any political party, fine. That's your prerogative, and that is your right. However, if you are going to legally declare your detachment from the mooring of a political party by registering as an independent, I also believe that you forfeit your right to influence either major party by, for example, voting in a primary.
Interestingly, a move like this might lessen the possibility of future "insurgents." In fact, the move might even be fueled by conservatives worried about the resurgence of another McCain:The Democratic National Committee has established a commission to study primary schedules for 2008, in which New Hampshire will have to defend its first-in-the-nation status. The committee's first meeting is next month.
"Having a large number of independents voting helps us make our case that the New Hampshire primary is a good thing," said state Democratic Chairman Kathy Sullivan.
She said voter interest in the primary will drop off among independents once they experience life under the proposed new rules, which would require a trip to city hall to change party affiliation.
"They may ask themselves, `Why go through the hassle?'" Sullivan said. "I think we need to do things that encourage people to vote, not discourage them."
Sullivan said Republicans began looking at ways to limit independents in 2000, after Sen. John McCain of Arizona beat George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary.I agree that we should make it easier for people to vote, and I tend to like insurgent candidates, but I also personally think that from a self-image and affectation standpoint that registering as an independent, but still claiming a right to vote in a party primary, is extremely annoying (is that too petty?). Talk about having your cake and eating it too. It's like "I am too cool to join your club, but I have no problems altering the rules of your club." This is especially frustrating considering the exceptionally low rate at which self-identifying independents turn out to vote. Our crisis in voter participation in this country is a crisis among "independents." Among self-identifying partisans who are registered to vote, voter turnout is typically over 80% (this year it might have been over 85%!), while among independents, even those registered to vote turnout less than 50% of the time. Considering this, I should probably have more sympathy for independents. To be honest, however, I don't.