ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) - The executive committee of the Tennessee Republican Party plans to meet next month to discuss a proposal that would change the primary election process.
GOP leaders will discuss a resolution that would essentially recommend that lawmakers pass legislation that would close primaries, The Johnson City Press (https://bit.ly/1upFciu) reported.
That would mean voters would have to register with their political party before casting a ballot in primary elections, and they could only vote for candidates identifying with the same party. For example, only those registered as Republican can vote for Republican candidates in the primary.
Former Unicoi County sheriff and Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committeeman Kent Harris said he favors a closed primary and was one of 16 members to request the special-called meeting in Nashville on Feb. 7.
“On the day of the primary, you can go in and say you’re a Republican, even though you’ve voted Democrat, maybe going to vote Democrat in the future,” Harris said. “There’s really no loyalty test to say, ‘I’m really a member of this party to vote in the primary election.’ “
Harris said changing the primary election system would prevent party crossover influence and allow political parties to choose their best candidates for the general election.
“In a primary election, you have Republican primaries and you have Democrat primaries,” Harris said. “There’s a stark contrast in the platforms of the Republican and the Democrat (parties), and you want to elect a strong Republican in the primary, and this would allow Republicans the choice to do that instead of the Democrat coming in and voting in the Republican primary, especially in the lower end of the state.”
He said with no elections scheduled until next year, the current legislative cycle would be a good time to consider it.
“That’s the good thing about bringing this up now. If we do make a change, there’s no elections until 2016, unless something special comes up,” he said. “So I think it’d be better, if there’s going to be a change, to do it this year. You wouldn’t want to do it in an election year and make a change right before the election.”
Information from: Johnson City Press, https://www.johnsoncitypress.com
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