New Hampshire, like many states, have a system in place known as “open primaries”. Meaning, anyone who has not chosen to register with either of the two mainstream political parties can go to the polls on primary day and pick a party to vote for. In theory, the idea sounds fair enough. Long ago, I even considered myself an “independent” or, the old way of saying that you were “undeclared”. I didn’t mind being able to maintain this independence, but still be able to attend the polls on primary day and help push forward my choice for the general election. But, here we are in 2022. Things are not what they once were. Political parties had worked to put their best candidates forward to do battle in the political arena. There was an honor system in place, where voters kept themselves to the party they most imagined they’d be with if they were forced to make that choice.
Well, there is a new way that is far more negative and disingenuous. The political system is now a game, and the game revolves around having undeclared voters, who are not registered as Republican or Democrat, go to the polls and choose the ballot of the team you least identify with. I have even heard that some folks went to their cities and towns and undeclared themselves from a party in order to take part in this game. These undeclared voters would now take a ballot for the party they most fundamentally oppose and vote for the worst candidates on that ballot with the intention to push forward the weakest candidates in the general election. Undeclared voters in district 6 took 654 to 106 Republican to Democrat ballots thus giving 547 likely votes against solid Republicans.
This would be like before a series with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox having both teams announce their starting lineups, but the Yankees get to pick not only their starters but Boston’s starters too. Obviously, the Yankees would make the Red Sox so weak that they could not defeat the Yankees. This is not allowed in the interest of fair and free competition. In politics it not only defeats the purpose of a primary election, but it moves us that much closer to a one-party system. The one-party system is enjoyed by such countries as North Korea, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. Not really the group a free nation would want to emulate.
So, what is the possible alternative? Closed Primaries. It’s very simple. Republicans vote Republican and Democrats vote Democrat. Stay in your own lane. There would be a few wrinkles to iron out, such as when the cutoff date to declare your party affiliation would be. Most municipalities already have that in place, but it could be codified by the state. Perhaps, a nice arbitrary number such as 4 months prior to the primary election. Whatever the decision, the one important component must be NO same day party declarations. If you haven’t declared your party affiliation by the date afforded, then you cannot vote in the primary on the day of!
The blow back to this concept would be the idea of voter suppression. This is simply not the case. The general election is the election! The primaries are there to narrow down the field in both political parties, a scrimmage of sorts. The reality would be that if you didn’t want voter suppression then there should not be primaries, and anyone who wishes to run should be on the ballot. Ultimately this would make for such confusion that the election process would undoubtedly collapse upon itself.
I believe, as has been demonstrated, the open primary is not conducive to fair elections as the spirit and purpose has been tainted and thus has been corrupted to have a negative impact on what must be a positive in our society and how we choose our leadership in our government.
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