When the Democratic Party of Hawaii filed a lawsuit to challenge the state’s open primary election system, they argued that the system unconstitutionally restricted the party’s right of association guaranteed by the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Proponents of the lawsuit believe this move will make the primaries more democratic since candidates will only be selected by those who subscribe to the basic philosophy of the party.
These arguments, however, face two basic dilemmas.
First, the collective right of association conflicts with the constitutional individual right to participate in the primary process. Therefore, the First Amendment right of association is not the only claim at issue in the lawsuit.
Second, while closed primaries do select those who subscribe to the philosophy of the party, oftentimes at the partisan extremes, they also limit political participation for many voters.
The debate over the lawsuit spotlights a fundamental tension as to whether primaries are aimed to nominate a specific party candidate who represents that partisan strain or whether primaries should encourage more participation.
What is almost certain is that if the lawsuit is successful and primaries in Hawaii are closed, voter turnout in primary elections will decline.
Hawaii traditionally has incredibly high rates of political participation. In 2012, Hawaii voter turnout in the primary reached over 42 percent, which is higher than many other states around the country.
For example, New Jersey, which has a closed primary system, had a voter turnout of 7.7 percent in the last primary election. New Jersey consistently measures fewer than 10 percent voter turnout in their primaries. While there is no indication Hawaii will drop that drastically, a closed primary does tend to limit voter turnout across the country.
Even as the Democratic Party is attempting to close the primary, many of Hawaii’s Democratic officials are against the filing. They argue that the open primary system in place “stimulates more discriminate and independent voting since the voter is not bound by party affiliation.”
The issue is in many ways creating a rupture among the Democrats in the Pacific island nation.
In spite of political discord or projected turnout rates, the courts ultimately will be tasked with deciding whether collective rights of political parties or the individual rights of all voters will triumph in this case. At a time when many states are organizing movements to open their primaries, the attempt by the Hawaii Democratic Party to close its primary will be important to follow as the case navigates through the court system.
Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.
WHY DO WE NOT PETITION OUR congress FOR accountable elections . with a computer that scans a paper ballot , so we have a paper trail to see if corruption was induced to promote the wrong party ?
Dem party of Hawaii was right -- come on people -- it's the PARTY picking its candidate -- if you do not belong to a party, then it is NOT your business. Now the kind of primary where you can cross back and forth, but only choose one candidate for each office, may have some merit. Independents need to run their own candidates -- and they need to focus on getting the laws that make that very difficult, repealed.
Primaries are for the individual parties and should not be funded with tax dollars. each party should pay for their primary. Non-affilialted or independent candidates should be on the General election ballot!
There's another option...let them have their closed primaries and individuals can organize if their candidate didn't make it and publicly encourage that individual to run as an independent candidate. Personally, I'm disgusted every day at both of the two parties and their constant attempts to keep the system rigged. However, that being said, at the end of the day the most moderate candidate will win. Nearly every time. Most candidates will seem extreme early on to get the primaries and as elections draw closer, they shave off the rough edges of their campaign to seem like someone fairly straight moderate, regardless of which side they're playing on.
It's playing politics. I'm surprised more people don't realize how exclusive the systems are or even the fact that our country has the bare minimum when it comes to choice for supporting a party that has a chance of representing their constituents in a meaningful way. I mean, even the term 'third party' suggests that someone belonging to that group is uninvited to the real show. All of the language which is common today reinforces the 2 party stranglehold on our government.
No closed primaries - encourage everyone who is eligible to vote to participate in open primaries and all elections.
As long as party primaries receive ANY public funding or assistance, they must be open to ALL voters. If political parties want to restrict participation to only party members, then they should fund and organize their own elections without ANY public funding or assistance whatsoever.
This became an issue when in Wisconsin recall elections the Republican party ran Republican Democrats in the primary as faux Democrats. This has also been an issue when voters, confident that their own primary candidate choice was secure with sufficient votes, used their votes to select a less competitive candidate to run as opposition, by voting other than for the primary candidate of the party to which they belong. This is deceptive behavior, and if not illegal is at least unethical. I can appreciate the desire to try to make the primary process more ethical, by not permitting the other party to interfere with the selection of their opposition.
If it is going to be a publically funded or organized ballot, it should be open to all the public. If a political party wants to decide who to support, they have mechanisms by which to do it without a publicly funded election (like any other political group, or private association does).
We could lessen the impact of political parties by making all ballot non partisan & all elections open to all candidates and all elections at large.
We have options. I think telling a political party how to run its primary is NOT one of them. We can start another political party with our own rules, we can become leaders within the party to change the rules of that party, we can not vote for that party, OR we can start a nonparty nonpartisan organization to build momentum for solutions and candidates between elections.
The "fundamental tension" problem could be solved easily by a State law to specify that a nonpartisan primary is the only route to the general election ballot.
I should be any party, other than the 2, and still be allowed to vote in a primary. PA doesn't want me to though
it's interesting how the dynamics play out in different states. in some states one party might want to open the primaries to disadvantage the other whereas in Hawaii they're trying to close it to consolidate their base of support.
I like how the "Democratic Party" argues that the right of the party to use State resources to elect their leaders trumps the individuals right to participate what is often the only competitive/meaningful part of the election process.
If they pay for their own primary than they can have who ever they want. As long as everyone tax dollars are paying for it then every one who pays taxes should be able to voted
I live in a state with paper ballots that are machine scanned, and having participated as one of the observers in recount elections, as well as an election judge, including for primaries, I can see a real benefit to them. On the other hand, our state is looking at upgrading to a newer technology in the future as voting machines become worn out. I dont see how paper ballots would prevent someone for voting for the candidate they believe would be the least competitive in a general election.
I have been trying to follow instances where there was interference with either fake party candidates or opposition voters voting to determine the oppositin primary candidate winner in other states. The problem is finding ways to prove it, and if you can, finding ways to limit or eliminate it -- and there don't seem to be a lot of options.
Sadly, I've heard a lot of voters, if there are a lot of candidates running, say they get lost in the ballot choices without the party designation to help avoid confusion. I don't know how many pages the Hawaii ballots run to, but in some states even primaries can be hard for people to be clear on party affiliation, depending on the number of offices for which there are candidates.
Then the party can pay for the primaries themselves, and not ALL of the taxpayers, more than half of which will not want that party's candidates. I don't see what is so hard to understand about this. You are using EVERYONE'S money to pay for YOUR party, and then telling them they cannot attend. If you want to exclude people, get your hands out of their pocketbooks and vote for your crooks yourself. The other solution is to eliminate primaries altogether, or simply make them nonpartisan.
I looked for examples on state or national elections where this was a problem for Repbulicans or others caused by Democrats or other groups, and did not find any, nor did I find a similar partisan example to Rush Limbaugh of prominently influential individuals calling for this from Democrats or liberals. This post singles out the Democrats for seekiing this change; they are presumably not seeking it absent a perceived problem or in a vacuum. The advantage to being aware that one party - so far - has been predominantly responsible for the other party seeking a change is a valid context to their desire for the change -- but, it would also prevent their partisans from doing it to the other side at some future point. In that sense it is bi-partisan in effect.
It's very simple - if the voting public wants party designation/endorsement avaliable on their candidates, then the public should pay for it to be part of elections.
If it were not for the abuse of the voting system to try to impair fair and honest candidate selection, there wouldn't be a problem in need of a solution like this. Pretty much the only party responsible for that being a problem is the Republicans.
No one is prevented from voting, it is not a hugely difficult thing to change your party affiliation.
This is not like voter ID laws that elminate legal voters from participation using documentation, or like voter suppression that limits the hours and days during which someone can cast a vote.
As an election judge in my state, when we have primaries, you can only vote for candidates in one party. No one seems to find it an impediment to voter participation, and we consistently have one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation - usually THE highest turnout in 2012, with 76% of eligible voters participating. So, from that experience, I'm skeptical that this assumed impediment is really as large as it is anticipated to be.
I would suggest that given it is presented as a solution, albeit an imperfect one, to a demonstrable problem, why not try it, to see if there is a significant effect or not? There is a strong assumption here that this will be detrimental, that is not well supported by similar practice in other states.
What about party caucuses that choose the parties in the first place? Or whatever the equivalent convention process is.
Would you object if you belonged to a party, donated to a party, worked for a party, only to have the participants in the other party hijack your candidate selection process to their advantage?
Even more than primaries, the pre-primary selection process is vulnerable to that; while not a lot of people vote in primaries compared to general elections, often those who participate in selecting the primary candidates and party platforms is even smaller.
I agree, that doesn't seem fair, and is of particular interest where there is genuine cross-over voting, that is not intended to sabotage the opposite party. Where I find that particularly intersting is when a third party doesn't have candidates for every elected position, so an independent or other third party voter - like green party - is therefore out of luck voting for some other party candidate. I don't know how that is handled in Hawaii, or how the Democrats want to have it handled under this lawsuit.
Hayden, is that a partisan statement, accusing one party of something? I'm just curious, because I believe a case can be made for both parties doing that, in multiple ways and methods, not just one party.
This would be simpler in some respects and more confusing in others, if we had fusion voting in as many states the way we used to do. Unfortunately, it was a decision in my state that went to the SCOTUS that made the two party system as ensconced as it is now, in Timmons vs. Twin Cities Area New Party. Under fusion voting, it is possible for both parties to endorse a single candidate or multiple same candidates. A strongly two party system has been institutionalized as a quasi-governmentally recognized institution, if not formally recognized as part of the actual government. Dominant parties are uniquely neither fish nor fowl, so to speak. Before those two parties were as institutionalized in elections as they are now, parties came and went died out, new ones started, occasionally third parties rose up. I think that Timmons made that less likely to happen, and therefore changed how the parties can operate, even need to operate.
No one is denied primary voting under this arrangment, only voting for priimary candidates other than their own. My understaning is that in most states, there is one primary election. You only get to vote once, either for your candidate, if you have a party affiliation, or for another party. It's not like you are voting for candidates in separate primaries.
Intereference by one party with the selection of the other party's candidates appears to be the issue.
The problem of fake candidates, or of voters who are trying to sabotage one party's candidate selection IS part of the election process. It costs tax payers, AND it costs the party. Depending on what candidates are running, we are not talking about half an electorate - that assumes, incorrectly, that interest in primaries is divided 50/50. The questoin to ask here is how many voters are in question that want to vote for a candidate in a different party's primary? That is not everyone, it is a relatively few people out of an electorate, but unlikely to be half. That puts the balancing act between finding a reasonable way for those people who want to change parties to do so, while preserving the integrity of the election process for not just one party, but all parties, and all voters, from a dirty tactic.
The protection is for everyone, not just Democrats; so long as there is a method for someone to reasonably change their party designation/registration so as to vote in a primary if they want to do so, no one is prevented from voting.
There does not seem to be a benefit to the voting process if changing party affiliations is too difficult. The goal should be open and honest elections, not elections which are dishonest or which prevent participation. That we have states in this country which make voting so very difficult in so many ways is an embarrassment to the country as a whole. It is looking more and more as if we might need federal laws to standardize voting so as to prevent laws that have NO other purpose than to suppress voting.
I'm just not persuaded that is the case with this law suit.
I looked for grass.. I didn't find any. Grass doesn't exist!
What I am not telling you is that I only looked for grass inside my house.
Context is everything, and it doesn't matter that you refuse to see reality. There was another post about this very topic, but a different state's democratic party doing this very same thing, less than 2 weeks ago or so on IVN. The fact that "you don't know" means absolutely diddly.
And here is your real problem.. "presumably".. Don't do that. It's not intellectually honest. And it doesn't actually matter if one party or the other is doing something wrong, or immoral, that does not permit everyone else to do it also. If you have a problem, change the laws, don't add to the pile of garbage. Thanks.
"Pretty much the only party responsible for that being a problem is the Republicans."
Please remember the IVN Etiquette explicitly says no partisan attacks. This could include beginning a sentence with "Democrats think..." or "All Republicans are..." There is no evidence to support that the Republican Party is solely responsible for voting abuses. I know you may not have meant this to be an attack, but please keep the IVN Etiquette in mind when commenting. Under normal circumstances this comment would have been removed but in the interest of a more substantive debate the editorial team has decided to leave it up so others can refer back to this instance to see how the etiquette should be observed while commenting. Thanks!
Changing party affiliation depends on the state you live in. It is extremely difficult to change in some states, and even has a ‘cooldown’ period.. so please don’t generalize the entire nation based on your state that might allow you to hotswap parties regularly.
IVN etiquette policy clearly states not to make partisan generalized attacks and that sources must be substantiated. You can find it here. http://ivn.us/etiquette/
3. Sources must be Substantiated
4. No Partisan-Based Attacks
I understand this is a common fear among people who oppose opening primaries. They say their primaries are going to be hijacked by the opposition, but there is very little evidence that this is a rampant problem in open primary states. I live in a semi-open primary state, Texas, and people make that argument all the time and yet, as a red state, we had our most conservative legislature in history in 2011 and Governor Perry is still the governor when Democrats could have crossed over to get a less competitive candidate through the gubernatorial primaries and there have been plenty of opportunities to do this.
One solution is to make it nonpartisan. Then you don't have to worry about political opponents hijacking ballots because everyone is on one ballot.
Why do parties get the State to fund their private election anyways? Why don't we challenge the notion that they should have this "institutionalized" access to the electoral process in the first place. Non of this would prevent them from having a private election and/or endorsement process...just why do they get public state funds to run their private primaries?
Please provide the link.
I'm not sure I follow your reasoning that if one party does it, everyone should do it. Rather I'm pointing out that A PARTY, in the multiple instances I noted, used this as a deliberate tactic, and this appears to be a response to that tactic. Nowhere did I suggest one wrong justifed another wrong by a different group. I don't see this as a wrong but rather as an attempt to prevent a wrong by EITHER party in the future. Such a change would preclude Dems from using fake candidates or fake crossover voters to sabotage their opposition, for more honest elections.
MORE Honest elections should be the intended goal. That is not served when one party tries to damage another in the primary process.
There is another issue here - cost of fake primaries to the taxpayer. Dishonesty as a political tactic is costly in running primaries. http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/123791244.html An additional $428,000 - and that was just for six candidates in recall elections, not for the whole slate of candidates that can potentially be entered in primaries - adds up significantly to the costs of state and local elections. I believe the costs of party politics and the public nickel were raised here.
I'm not saying this is a perfect solution, I'm just point ing out that there has been a political tactic promoted that makes for less honest politics and therefore this should be looked at in that broader context. This is not a solution in search of a problem it is a solution to an actual problem. That it is a problem for Democrats created by Republicans does not preclude the reverse; but that the Dems are trying to prevent the problem means they would be stopping themselves from doing it to anyone else either, doesn't it?
An earlier article on IVN noted that the change in closed primary voting was the result of Republicans voting in primaries for George Wallace, altering the election. I would have actually thought that Wallace would be an instance of Democrts engaging in the practice, as he might be expected to draw off Republican voters back in that era, but perhaps that reflected more of the "Southern Strategy". Pointing out that Republicans had openly advocated for this, like the WI GOP party chair had is purely intended to identify the possible reasons for the Democrats to respond. It is of course possible for either side to do so, and for any party to be stuck with their name on a candidate they reject - like David Duke, who because of his affiliation with the KKK, has run first as a Democrat, then as a Republican in Louisiana, and was rejected/repudiated by both of those parties unsuccessfully. He actually won a seat in the Louisiana legislature shortly after changing parties, and has since run for Governor, Congressman, Senator, and state Senate.
This comes down to the questoin should either the people who identify as members of a party, or the party hierarchy itself, have any control over who is a candidate claiming their endorsement, particularly if they don't actually endorse someone?
I don't think there are any clear or easy answers; it does seem to me that if we have labels, like truth in labeling on products, that an endorsement should represent what those people who belong to the endorsing entity choose.
The Nevada example is not clearly a fake candidate, as established by anyone who is genuinely independent. The 'fake' candidate insists he was both genuine, and that he was part of the formation of a Tea Party group. Unlike the two major parties, there is no comparable established hierarchy to make that determination. There have been conflicts between different Tea Party groups claiming to be authentic, and that the competing Tea Party group is not 'the real Tea Party' in other states.
In contrast, we see the decision to run fake Democratic candidates, and voting as fake Democrats specifically in order to alter unfavorably the outcome of primaries as an expressed tactic by people in positions of authority in the GOP - positions they admit. We also see this as an espoused tactic endorsed by conservative influential figures, like Rush Limbaugh, also on the record, where there is no ambiguity that this is deliberate and more widespread than one candidate.
I could not find a comparable example of this from the Democrats compared to it happening in states like Wisconsin and Indiana, among others.
Concern it MIGHT happen is very different from documented cases where it DID verifiably happen in significant numbers, especially if your own party is concerned about their tactic being used against them. Given the number of claims of voter fraud that are made by the Tea Party and GOP that are not supported by fact after many investigations, it argues we should be skeptical of claims as unclear as this one. In terms of numbers of verifiable efforts to interfere with Democratic primaries, the Dems are not entirely unreasonable in their concerns. There just is not a documented comparable effort from the left in this the way there is from the right.
Did anyone say your name? No, I don't see it anywhere, so you must have guilt associated with something, since no one "personally attacked" you. Thanks for trying though. Maybe YOU should heed your own advice.
No Jen, that is factually inaccurate. I removed your comments for violating the etiquette policy, and that decision passed review by editors here at IVN who upheld that you had violated the policy. Do try to be more factual please, and you might want to be careful about making further personal attacks.
The article focuses on the Democratic Party of Hawaii because its name is on the lawsuit. Note that the article doesn't say all Democrats support this. In fact, it points out that some top Democrats in the state do not agree with their party. If the article had said all Democrats in Hawaii (or in general) support closing the primaries then that would have been a partisan attack because it is blatantly not true.
The Senate race in Nevada is an instance of 'spoling' that would favor the Democratic candidate. This is not a practice of just one party, rather it's a consequence of having partisan primary elections.
This is an article focused on Democrats, one party - ie partisan - for seeking a rules change. While it is possible that either party could do so, this is reasonably a solution to a problem sought by Democrats not because of a problem with Democrats, but in anticipation or experience of a problem from the other most significant party.
This was also something that was urged by Rush Limbaugh in the 2008 election:
Sen. John Kerry -- an Obama supporter -- credited Clinton's win entirely to Limbaugh.
"Rush Limbaugh was tampering with the primary," he said on a conference call with reporters. "If it was not for Republicans taking Democratic ballots, [Obama] would have won."
While it may be happening that there are isolated cases of this being encouraged by Democrats, or Green Party, or other Party figures, either pundits or official members of a party, I have not been able doing an internet search to find instances where it similarly became a problem for Republicans from Democrats.
I would argue that this is no more a partisan comment than this is a partisan post in singling out Democrats for seeking this change. It would appear that the Dems are doing so in response to examples of it nationally, if not in Hawaii. Trying to understand why they would do this is part of formulating alternatives and in evaluationg what such a change would accomplish.
If it was equally a problem for Republicans that Democrats were trying to affect the outcome, by voting for Republican candidates, I think we would see a similar effort for change.
But if one party does it during the recent election cycles and it works, it is not unreasonable to believe that sooner or later their opposition might at least be tempted to do so at some future point. That makes it a less partisan issue, even if it is caused now by one party attempting to affect the other large party.
Some people on here seem to make a habit of doing these things, and will go to great lengths to do so, even so far as deleting and manipulating comment sections under the guise of the "rules", while they continually break them themselves, so be careful.. they don't like being called out!
Thanks for the clarification. This goes to the problem of what we mean by primaries being different in every state. In my state, each party has a slate of endorsements, sometimes they don't have an endorsement for each possible elected office. Judges who are elected do NOT have party affiliations, unlike other offices. What you are describing as primaries, IF I understand correctly - and I'm not sure I have a full understanding of all the details or implications here - then what Hawaii considers primaries, other state (like my own) consider party conventions for the selection of candidates, where delegates rather than individual voters make the selection. Where there is more than one candidate who is popular, or where an elected office is not addressed by the party conventions, then everyone running files as whatever party they want to run as, but it is not regarded the same as an actual party endorsement. So far we have not had, that I know of, the problem that the elections had of fake Democrats in WI, or like Louisiana, with David Duke, a candidate running that one or both parties strongly did not want associated with them.
If this really is, as they argue, a private primary, then I absolutely agree that the party should darn well pay for it themselves. I was incorrectly understanding it to be more like Ohio and some other states where the actualy ballot you were given was based on your party affiliation, but in fully public elections.
They are private elections. In fact, this is the basis of the Hawaii argument and the very argument the parties made successfully in Democratic Party v. Jones. I think you are correct though ... primaries shouldn't be private election; unless the parties wanted to pay for them themselves.
No one is talking about getting rid of them. Competition makes everyone stronger. If parties had to compete for more votes, I would argue that I'm arguing for stronger parties (in terms of their ability to represent the electorate)
Primaries are not private elections. But they are public elections that are specific to party designations. If you are trying to get rid of parties, and party designations, then you need widespread support for that. While such support might vary by state, I would be surprised if people generally support ending party participation in elections or in government.