Republicans Looking to Tighten Eligibility For State Primaries

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Republicans in Texas and elsewhere are considering closing primaries to limit what they say is Democratic meddling.

One of the Texas GOP’s top legislative priorities includes closing primaries to stop Democrat interference. It is part of a sweeping measure calling on the state legislature to enhance election integrity while combating voter fraud.

The idea also appears in a platform “plank” to prevent liberal Democrats crossing over so they can “move the Republican Party to the left.”

Some Republicans point to stories of Democrats playing spoiler in Texas primaries as a concern.

Abbott shows off election integrity bill
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shows off Senate Bill 1, also known as the election integrity bill, after he signed it into law in Tyler, Texas, on Sept. 7, 2021. (LM Otero/AP Photo)

In February, an Austin woman quoted in a Texas Public Radio story admitted she and others crossed over to vote in the Republican primary to cause chaos.

“Let’s get these guys to a primary runoff. Let’s make them burn their war chest money before they face Democrats in November,” K. Monroe told Texas Public Radio.

In other states such as Colorado, Democrats ran ads for MAGA candidates, hoping to knock out more moderate Republicans during primary races.

Republicans in Georgia are talking about closing their primary because more than 80,000 people who voted Democratic in the past voted in their primary.

In Texas, State Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia), who serves parts of Montgomery and Waller counties outside of Houston, told The Epoch Times crossover voting isn’t an issue in his district. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t caused problems in larger metropolitan areas.

Epoch Times Photo

“I know there are people who are very concerned about closing our primaries,” Bell said. “Election integrity is a high priority to all Texans and Americans.”

Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told The Epoch Times that registered voters may cast a vote in a Republican or Democratic Texas primary.

However, voters must stick with the party they selected. If someone voted in the Democratic primary race, that person couldn’t switch back and vote in a Republican primary runoff, for example.

Jillson said the idea behind Republicans closing their primary would be limiting “Republicans In Name Only” candidates and ensuring office-seekers are true to Republican values. But he pointed out that cross-voting may be more of a perceived threat than an actual one.

Republicans are unlikely to go through with closing their primary at this point because they dominate statewide elections.

“The Republicans haven’t lost a state race in Texas since 1994,” Jillson said.” When you’re winning, why would you change the game?”

Using definitions developed by Ballotpedia and the National Confederation of State Legislatures, Texas and 14 other states have open primaries. Nine have closed ones, and the remainder falls somewhere in between.

Open primaries are where registered voters of any affiliation may vote in any party primary they choose. They cannot vote in more than one party’s primary each election.

Mark Rountree—founder and president of Landmark Communications, a Georgia firm that conducts political analysis—told The Epoch Times that crossover voting changed the outcome of Georgia’s Republican primary.

His firm’s research shows that 85,019 or 7.6 percent of voters in the Georgia Republican primary had voted Democratic in either 2018 or 2020.

That leads him to believe it impacted the primary in the case of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the incumbent who faced Trump-backed candidate Rep. Jody Hice.

Raffensperger finished with 52.3 percent of the vote, or 2.3 percent above the majority threshold that would have prompted a runoff.

“Rosenberger got nominated simply because a lot of Democrats switched over,” Rountree said.

However, he said that doesn’t mean Democrats switched over to stop Trump-backed candidates from winning in the Georgia Republican primary.

It appears that some people are “Republicats,” meaning they are swing-voters who vote Democratic or Republican depending on the race in years past, he said.

Darlene McCormick Sanchez

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