MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Alabama’s Republican leaders voted to support significant changes to the state’s election process. The party held their organizational meeting Saturday and adopted a resolution that supports a closed primary election and added a new requirement for people wanting to run for office on a Republican ticket.
The purpose is to protect the party. Both of the election measures voted on would really restrict who can run and vote for the Republican Party to keep them more in line with party beliefs.
“This is a political party, not a social club,” said Rep. Andrew Sorrell.
Sorrell says that’s why measures voted on during the party’s organizational meeting were crucial to protecting the party.
“We are here to elect Republicans, and the Republicans we elect, we expect to turn around and help us elect more Republicans,” said Sorrell.
A bylaw change was voted into place for this reason. Now, any candidate or elected official that supports another party will be banned from the Republican ballot for six years.
“We’ve had Republican elected officials, openly supporting members of another political party,” said Sorrell.
The party also voted to support a closed primary election.
“If we moved to a closed primary, then you’d have to register with a party to be able to vote in that party’s primary,” said Peter Jones, an assistant professor of public administration for UAB.
Supporters say the move would be to prevent other parties from voting on the Republican ticket, but Jones, a public administration professor, explains that closed primaries don’t always prevent that.
“It doesn’t preclude Democrats, people who might identify with the Democratic Party from registering as a Republican and doing the same thing,” said Jones.
And it could negatively impact voter turnout.
“I think that it may actually restrict voter participation. Because there are a number of people, we get calls about this, each and every election cycle, that are reluctant to share their party preference,” said Secretary of State John Merrill.
Lawmakers would have to pass legislation to implement a closed primary, if it fails Sorrell says there are other options…
“The party does have authority to not do a primary, the party could do a convention to pick their nominees. And they do that in other states. And I don’t think anybody wants to go that route,” said Sorrell.
Lawmakers won’t return to the state house until March 2023, and with elections the year after, that would be a quick time to set up and re-register voters so they can determine their party.
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