The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

7 April 2004

Prying open the primary

Oklahoma's primary elections are closed: Democrats vote only for Democrats, Republicans for Republicans. The Oklahoma Libertarian Party, whose membership may be described as "not large," proposed opening their 2000 primary to members of the major parties. The Election Board balked, noting that state law permits them to admit registered Independents, but not members of other recognized parties.

Eventually the Libertarians sued the Election Board; US District Judge Stephen Friot ruled against the party, saying that the law was intended to insure "that the results of a primary election... accurately reflect the voting of the party members." An appeal was filed, and yesterday the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Friot's decision in a 3-0 vote.

Nothing in this ruling mandates that the two major parties have to allow crossover voting, but it's a first step towards opening up the primaries, which I think will prove beneficial to third parties in years to come, especially with the general level of dissatisfaction with the Big Boys.

Posted at 9:41 AM to Soonerland

Allowing political parties to open up their primaries to the registered members of other parties is okay, but if anyone hopes to be able to force a party to do so, I believe the standing jurisprudence on that question says "Nope, cain't do it."

Or words to that effect...

Posted by: McGehee at 4:51 PM on 7 April 2004

I wouldn't expect our major state parties to open up any time soon, but given the difficulty in getting ballot access at all in this state, I think letting the minor parties throw their doors open will prove to be, as Martha says, a Good Thing.

And if someone is hoping to force open primaries at one fell swoop, abject failure almost certainly awaits him.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:01 PM on 7 April 2004

OKLP certainly doesn't want to force the Democrats or Republicans, or anyone else, to open their primaries. We just want to be able to open ours to anyone who'd like to participate.

Posted by: Chris at 8:22 PM on 7 April 2004