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Mississippi Sec. of State Says Government Shouldn’t Run Party Primaries

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WDAM 7, a local station in southern Mississippi, reported on a new initiative Wednesday that would revamp the state’s primary system. Initiative 57 seems to support a nonpartisan blanket primary, though the initiative simply refers to it as an “open primary,” and the language isn’t entirely clear.

The text of the initiative partly reads:

“Each ballot will have a list of Republican, Democrat, and Independent [Candidates] for each office. After the votes have been casted then the top Republican, Democrat and Independent Candidate will run in the November Election.”

The initiative argues that this would “take the edge off the candidates so that they will be able to run for their political party, but allow voters to choose who they want in office.”

In a nonpartisan blanket primary, all candidates and voters, regardless of party affiliation, participate on a single ballot. Voters can choose candidates from any party they want in each race, and the top vote-getter from each qualified party moves on to the general election.

More on How Primary Elections Work

California adopted a nonpartisan blanket primary in the 90s, but it was struck down by the Supreme Court in the case California Democratic Party v. Jones. The Democratic Party successfully argued that it is a private organization and the state cannot control the nomination proceedings of political parties.

The argument from both major parties is simple: primary elections belong to political parties. If a voter wants to participate in them, he or she must join a party.

Yet in states with party primaries (whether closed, semi-closed, or open) these elections are still funded and administered by the government. So while the parties argue that the nomination process should be private, it is to some extent government run — something Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says shouldn’t happen.

From WDAM:

“Party primaries are for the parties. They’re not for the government, and the government [shouldn’t] be in a party primary. So you’ll never see me advocating that the government run the Republican primary or the Democrat primary. They need to run their own primary. They just need to follow the statue, and they need to run it. I think it’s a much better system. Then we run the general.” – Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann

Hosemann has proposed legislation that would broadly reform elections in Mississippi, but not at the primary stage.

Two years ago, Hosemann assembled an election reform committee to look at various aspects of election law and administration, including primaries. A plurality of members recommended implementing a nonpartisan, top-two primary similar to the systems in California and Washington state. However, the committee excluded such primary reform when drafting the new legislation.

Mississippi currently has a mixed primary system, meaning that voters do not have to register with a party, but voters who participate in the primary must intend to support the party’s nominations. Since voter intent is difficult to dispute in court, some have chosen simply to call Mississippi’s system an open partisan primary.

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17 comments
Brett Mize
Brett Mize

The primary system is to make sure that someone wins though, the last time we had multiple canadits allowed to run from major parties no one won.

John Wayne
John Wayne

The game of DIVIDE and CONTROL of WE the SLAVES continues. The RULLING ELITE like STUPID SLAVES. Why do you play along?

Mary Hunter
Mary Hunter

I'd feel better about this if it wasn't coming from a state in the bible belt because you always have to wonder if they mean god should be running things...

Rob Maxwell
Rob Maxwell

It shouldn't. Let the parties fund their own primaries.

Anatole Evans
Anatole Evans

Stand up to Hill first!! Trump is next! About as fair and balanced as the Corporate media! Feel the Bern! The two party system has been playing the same game for forty years! The only ones benefiting and getting what they want is the one percent! Just a trending news story brought to you by repetition creates reality inc. Also brought to you by just ignore Bernie Sanders inc. Not all that different from how Bill Cosby handled these questions! Bill Clinton is just a much better liar! Check out the list of allegations and the number of women making them! I believe victims and I don't trust the Clintons! Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby used power, intimidation, and a persona larger than life to silence a lot of women! Just wrong! Rape was part of the allegations and money was paid out! How many women need to come forward before we believe them? HRC is enabler in chief!

James Woodard
James Woodard

I hope it catches on. I for on would welcome such and a rid of Partisan government.

Tom Ingle
Tom Ingle

State does not run primaries in Texas. Parties pay and hire their own judges.

leonT
leonT

Excellent. Good for the SOS.

Quark Hadren
Quark Hadren

The SoS shouldn't run them... as long as the taxpayers also don't pay for the private primaries.

Howard McCartney
Howard McCartney

Let the state continue to pay but include all qualified candidates from all parties.

George Osborne
George Osborne

THIS TIME AROUND WE HAVE A PERSON SMART ENOUGH TO HAVE RECOUNTS AND CHECK THOSE THAT VOTED.... Donald Trump 2016

Ben Hardin
Ben Hardin

Curiously an excerpt from the text mentions Republican, Democrat and independent but not third party. Is this just an amateurish oversight or are third parties illegal in Mississippi? Seems important in that the top vote-getter from each qualified party moves to the general election. Then how can it be said that this “nonpartisan” blanket primary is really nonpartisan? Why not allow a half-dozen vote-getters, regardless of whether that might even include a couple of candidates from the same party, proceed to the general? Is it because of concern that candidates might get their names on the general election ballot after having received only a rather small plurality in the primary? If so, perhaps the residual first-past-the-post mindset should be abandoned and an approval type voting method should be implemented.

Lucille Aruck
Lucille Aruck

how many brains does it take to know that. I' m not even really that smart and I knew that a long time ago

Rich Saunders II
Rich Saunders II

The Free and Equal Elections Foundation is doing great work in this regard. It's time to reform the electoral system.

Paul Gill
Paul Gill

Yes as long as it nonpartisan and not a third party!!

Kent Myers
Kent Myers

Government shouldn't be paying for these private parties elections...