Thursday, May 06, 2010

Indiana Primaries And Me

It's little known and unenforceable, but Indiana's primaries are, by law, for party members only; and they don't mean third parties, either. (Recognized third parties hold nominating conventions instead -- separate and supposedly equal, I guess).

Per State law, if you voted in the previous general election here, you may only vote in the primary of the party for which you cast the majority of your general-election votes; conversely, if you are a new voter when the primaries roll around, whichever party's primary you vote in, you're obliged to vote for a majority of their candidates come November.

Effectively, it means I can't vote in our primaries. I've come under mild criticism for this elsewhere, in part because, thanks to the secret ballot, compliance cannot be checked. Short of deliberate self-incrimination, there's no way to be caught.

Be that as it may, ever since I started voting again, I have found myself voting for Libertarian candidates. Last time I did blink at the last minute and voted for John McCain (wish I hadn't; but Barr didn't seem any better) and formerly perennial LP hopeful Andy Horning, who was running as a Republican that once-and-final time, but otherwise, color me Wookiee.

So I didn't vote Tuesday. I should have gone to the polls and asked for a School Board ballot; found out I could at the last minute.

There are those who think I should have voted a full ballot -- after all, who'd know, and perhaps I could push the GOP in a more libertarian direction. This pragmatic attitude overlooks two little items: 1) I'd know; 2) a party's actual members ought to be the ones influencing its direction and picking its candidates. I am not a fan of the "big tent" theory of political parties; too many issues get lost in the crowd. There's already a political party with a platform very close to what I believe and it's the Libertarian Party.


Drang said...

I've pretty much reached the conclusion that primaries are a crock. We had an "open primary" here in WA, in which you voted for your preferred candidate for each office from the full slate of Party of Evil, Party of Stupid, Party of Commies, Party of Wookies, Party of get off My Lawn!, etc. One and one only, but you cold vote for anybody.
Come November, each party would have one candidate only, and you'd vote for whichever you felt was the Lesser Evil. (Unless you felt like voting for the Greater Evil.)
The Party of Evil decided that was horribly unfair, mostly 'cuz they worried that members or adherents of the Party of Stupid would be not so stupid after all, and vote for the absolute worst Party of Evil candidate in the primary, so as to skew the ballot come November. So they sued. And got the State Party of Stupid to go along.
So now we have to declare a party in the primary, and only vote for that party, although we are not held to any such requirement in November.
A pox on both their houses.

karrde said...

My state has a "declare-your-party" primary.

You walk up, ask for either the Stupid or Evil ballot, and vote inside that ballot.

For a long time, the local School Board held its election separate from the Primary or General elections...then they ran out of spare cash, so they had to cram themselves into the Primary ballot.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said... didn't vote for Marvin?

Geez, and I only did reluctantly.

What bugged me was that Hostettler and Stutzman between them had a majority over Coats. One of them should have dropped out before the ballot was finalized. Instead, now the R's have a minority candidate (Coats) running for Senate. In a case like that there ought to have to be a runoff, durn it.

And that whole thing with Burton -- personally, other than his Luddite insistence that mercury in vaccines causes autism, I like Burton; maybe he's an acquired taste. But if you want to beat Burton, you don't do it by larding up the primary ballot with six wannabees. As it turns out, a bunch of folks including McVey and McGoff should have dropped out of that race and let Messer take him on solo.

This is a problem that the Tea Parties are going to have to address: It's great for an incumbent to have a challenge. It's not great to split the hell out of his opposition by fielding half a dozen candidates to challenge him in the primary. It's hard to stay on message that way.

Ed Rasimus said...

I'm not sure that there isn't a little bit of misinformation lurking here. (No-notice credential check: I've taught government in comm. college for the last twelve years in Col. and Tex. with BS and MS in Political Science--sorry to bring it up!)

I'm not sure how Indiana can have any way of knowing WHO you voted for in the general election. Secret ballot you know! They can tell if you did or did not vote, but not what parties. But if you've just moved in, just registered or just turned 18, how can they keep you from voting in primaries?

Your primary in Indiana is called an "open" primary, meaning you don't declare party affiliation on your registration. Walk into the polling place, provide proof of registration and ask for a Rep or Dem ballot. Vote.

Since you are helping choose the party nominees, you obviously embrace one party or the other and don't split hairs.

A "closed" primary such as we have in Colorado requires you to be registered to a declared party sixty days prior to the primary. If registered as a Rep, you can only vote in Rep primary. Change your party 60 days prior to switch. If unaffiliated on primary day you can declare at the polls, but after that you are registered for the declared party.

D.W. Drang, you are describing a "blanket" primary not an open primary. You get the Chinese menu choices, one from Col. A, one from Col. B if you wish. Not a very good way to choose a party's candidates.

Karrde, school boards and municipal elections are generally non-partisan and don't have a primary.

Roberta X said...

Ed, the point is, they can't; it's on the honor system. If you haven't any honor, you can vote in whichever primary you like, then vote for a total anyone-but-them ticket in the Fall.

But I kinda gotta be able to use mirrors; my hair's naturally messy, among other things. Therefore....

Just 'cos one could get away with it, that doesn't mean it is right. It'd gnaw at me.

og said...

I'm with Thoreau on this, and always will be. I can look in the mirror just fine after doing something illegal, and in fact often do nominally illegal things SO I can look at myself in the mirror. I work pretty hard not to do things that are wrong. There is a broad distinction between the two things, in my mind. ymmv.

Roberta X said...

It's not that it is illegal per see, but that it is a form of lying; the behavior is dishonorable, a betrayal of trust. Even though it's the trust of a politcal party, it still doeasn;t set well with me.

YMMV; I'm not after universal truth here, only pandering to my own foibles.

Ed Rasimus said...

I think you've read way too much into things. Anyone can change their mind between elections. I suspect a lot of folks are doing that right now!

You aren't lying when you walk into a primary and declare that this morning you are a Republican. You are expressing your privilege as a citizen.

Anyone who doesn't vote in primaries is missing the real opportunity to have a voice in the process. They are then forced to take what is offered in November, even when it is unpalatable. Don't do that.

(P.S. I actually went to the Indiana Sec. of State web site to research your primaries before shooting my mouth off yesterday!)

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Frankly, this particular law falls into the same category as attempts to legislate the value of pi, or to create a penalty for throwing a lit cigarette out of your car window at speed.

The category of laws that need to be repealed, that is.

wv: rettarde. The kind of legislator who writes this kind of stupid, unenforceable law.

Ed Rasimus said...

Nathan, my point throughout this is the misinformation being put forth. It isn't a law worthy of repeal, because it isn't the law!

Indiana is an OPEN primary state. You don't declare a party when registering to vote, your voter registration doesn't display a party and on any given primary election you can legally, honestly, morally, comfortably walk in and declare yourself a Republican or a Democrat without regard to how you've ever voted in the past.

You can only vote in one primary per election however, which doesn't seem unreasonable. In a CLOSED primary state you have to declare your party preference when you register and that must be prior to the primary election.

Roberta X said...

Open, but there is still an obligation.

Also -- the GOP? Authors of the "Patriot" Act, two budget-busting wars, and the Wall Street bailout, I'm not really feeling the love. The party of the pachyderm is not as bad as the party of the ass, but that's not saying much.

I'll take the Libertarians. In fact, I'm feeling motivated to declare straight-ticket loyalty, just to irk the "he beats me because he loves me" GOP followers.

And the party that threw Mr. Goldwater out with the bathwater can pick their own aging, goof-offs who would bite the heads of live bald eagles if they thought it would get them into office without my help, thank you very much.