The Washington Post reported Wednesday that three pastors who support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit against Virginia over a new requirement that GOP primary voters sign a statement at the polls affirming that they are Republicans. Trump condemned the party’s decision, calling it a “suicidal mistake.”
The plaintiffs — Stephen A. Parson Sr., Bruce L. Waller Sr. and Leon Benjamin — argue that the so-called loyalty pledge will discourage minority and low-income voters from participating in the primary process.
Virginia conducts open presidential primary elections, meaning that voters can choose which party ballot they want to vote on and are confined to the candidates of that party. It also means voters do not declare party affiliation when they register to vote.
The three members of Virginia’s Board of Elections are listed as defendants in the suit because while the decision to require the pledge was made by party leaders, the board “finalized and will oversee the administration of the pledge at the polls.”
The Washington Post reports:
“Despite recent attempts to impose a pledge in presidential primaries, the last one was instituted in 2000, according to party officials.
GOP officials declined to comment Wednesday on whether the public outcry and the lawsuit have caused them to reconsider.
Last week, John Findlay, executive director of the Virginia GOP, sent party officials talking points insisting that the pledge, which the party calls a “statement of affiliation,” is intended to prevent Democrats from choosing the party’s nominee.”
Plaintiffs argue that the pledge violates the Voting Rights Act, the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and state law.
Voters will be asked to sign the pledge before casting a ballot, but the question that few media outlets are asking is, what happens if someone refuses to affirm that they are a member of the Republican Party? What if a poll worker then turns the voter away and says they cannot vote in what is supposed to be an open, taxpayer-funded election because they refuse to say they are a Republican?