Well, if the Alabama Republican Executive Committee has its way, you won’t be able to say that any more.
As GOP Chairman Bill Armistead clearly put it, “(W)e just feel like Republicans ought to nominate Republicans and Democrats ought to nominate Democrats and you need to identify where you stand.”
To accomplish this, the Republican Executive Committee has thrown its support behind a bill authored by state Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, that would require voters to register with the party of their choice in order to vote in that party’s primary. That would end Alabama’s open-primary system.
It would also end the fun-filled sport that has occasionally added chaos and confusion to Alabama politics — crossover voting.
It is possible with an open primary for people who support one party to vote in the other party’s primary in an effort to nominate a weaker candidate. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Recently, some Republicans charged that Democrats crossed over to nominate Robert Bentley for governor instead of Bradley Byrne, who was considered the stronger candidate. You know how that turned out.
However, an open primary allows people to “vote for the man, not the party,” which is what many people do — or, at least, that’s what they claim.
States are divided on their forms of primaries. Alabama is one of 11 states whose primaries are open. If this changes, Alabama will join the 11 states whose primaries are closed. Other states have a combination of these systems.
When Republicans were a minority party in the state, they opposed a closed primary system and were adept at crossing over. Remember how Gov. Guy Hunt got elected? However, as Republicans gained strength, they have become more concerned with “purifying” the primaries by making party membership a requirement to vote. Once this is done, party lines will harden even more than they are now.
The critical question is, which system is best for the voters. They should be a party’s principal concern — and that depends on the quality of candidates a party offers. With good candidates, either system can work. However, neither system will make much difference if the choices are poor ones.