A lot has been written recently about RPV’s decision to require voters to sign a Statement of Affiliation during the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary. Many people are questioning the wisdom of it, and others are outright attacking it as an infringement on people’s right to vote.
Well I say keep the Statement of Affiliation, and here’s why:
1. Republicans have the right to freely associate, even in primaries.
The Republican Party is a private organization, and the First Amendment gives people the right to freely associate with people they choose to. That means a private organization, like a political party, may set its own requirements for membership or participation in its activities. There is nothing that says a party must allow non-members to participate, even if they are availing themselves of government services like a primary. Simply asking someone to state that they are a Republican is not an undue burden to place on people if they want to vote in the Republican primary.
Ask yourself this simple question: if someone is unable, or unwilling, to state that they are a Republican, do you really want them voting to select the Republican nominee for the Republican party? Isn’t that what we are always complaining about with state-run primaries? How many times have we watched a moderate or liberal candidate make blatant appeals to Democrats to come out and vote in the Republican primary in order to defeat a more conservative candidate?
Let’s face it. There is no real Democrat contest this year. Hillary Clinton has all but sewn up the nomination. She is beating her closest challenger, Bernie Sanders, by double digits. Hillary already has over half of the Democrat Superdelegates publicly in her pocket, so she already has at least 25% of the delegates she needs to win the convention before the first vote has been cast. By the time Virginia has its primary the race will be over. Do we really want Democrats coming into our primary to help pick the weakest candidate?
Asking people to sign a statement saying they are a Republican won’t stop all Democrats from corrupting our process, but it will stop a lot of them.
2. Other States close their primaries, and some even require their own Statements of Affiliation.
According to Ballotpedia, there are 12 states that have strictly closed primaries, and another 21 states that are mixed, with most allowing parties to restrict access to their primaries to only members of their party. Some states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, allow independents to vote in the party primaries but they must register as a Republican or Democrat at that time in order to vote. In other states, like Idaho and Indiana, voters are bound by the choices they have made in the past. If they voted in a Democrat primary in the previous election, they may not get a Republican ballot this year.
Other states have statements of affiliation like the one proposed to be used in Virginia this year:
Colorado (Title 1, Article 7, Section 201): If unaffiliated, the eligible elector shall openly declare to the election judges the name of the political party with which the elector wishes to affiliate, complete the approved form for voter registration information changes, and initial the registration list in the space provided. Declaration of affiliation with a political party shall be separately dated and signed or dated and initialed by the eligible elector in such manner that the elector clearly acknowledges that the affiliation has been properly recorded.
Texas (Section 172.086: PLEDGE ON BALLOT): The following pledge shall be placed on the primary election ballot above the listing of candidates’ names: “I am a (insert appropriate political party) and understand that I am ineligible to vote or participate in another political party’s primary election or convention during this voting year.”
Mississippi (23-15-575.- Participation in primary election): No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in the primary in which he participates.
The majority of States limit participation to only members of a political party, or require some form of Statement of Affiliation. The Statement approved by RPV is not unique and we shouldn’t treat it as some something strange and obtrusive.
3. Our pledge for a Party run process is even more strict.
One of the things I have found most striking about this current issue is the number of people who say they support party-run processes (convention, party canvass, mass meeting) objecting to this simple Statement of Affiliation, which just asks people to say they are a Republican. When we have a party-run process, the requirements are much more restrictive. Potential voters must not only sign a statement saying they are a Republican, but must also pledge to support the eventual nominee selected at the convention or party canvass or mass meeting.
In addition, in a party run process a voter’s participation may be challenged, and the issue is decided by a Credentials committee. If the challenged voter has previously voted in Democrat primaries, or is shown to have donated money to Democrat candidates, the voter may be asked to publicly renounce their previous Democrat support, or may simply be denied a ballot.
I am having a hard time seeing the logic behind supporting a closed primary process where ballot access is much more strictly controlled, and opposing a simple statement saying “I am a Republican” for this presidential primary. It just doesn’t add up. It basically boils down to people saying, “we should have had a convention where we could limit participation to only Republicans, but since we voted for this bad choice of a state-run primary, we should make sure it is as bad as possible, so all the Democrats who want to can come in and choose are nominee.
Sorry, folks. That doesn’t make sense to me.
I am a Republican. I have always been a Republican. I ran for office as a Republican. I want Republicans to pick the Republican nominee in the Republican primary. If someone is unable to bring themselves to simply state that they are a Republican, I DO NOT want them to vote in the Republican primary.
I believe the best way to win the General Election is to provide the voters with a strong candidate who is a solid, dependable Conservative that can present a bold vision of America’s greatness and how we can all achieve the American dream. I don’t see how we are able to achieve that if we are more concerned with allowing people who don’t share our values to vote in our primary and choose our candidate for us.