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Alabama is one of 15 states that does not require voters to register with a political party before a vote in a primary. Some Republicans argue it’s time to change that.
The Alabama Republican Party will vote this weekend on whether to support a party registration requirement for primaries, also known as a closed primary. Passage of the resolution would signal support for the idea, but the Alabama legislature would have to enact legislation to make such a change.
“I really expect it to pass,” Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl said of the party’s resolution. The state GOP approved a similar resolution in 2016.
Currently, voters casting their ballots in a primary election in Alabama simply tell an election worker which ballot they want. Wahl said there are growing concerns about a possible cross-vote. Republicans should elect Republican candidates, he said.
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“I think that’s an issue that’s been highlighted by this election cycle. We’ve seen so much frustration on the part of candidates, voters, as well as members of the Republican Party, with Democrats deliberately trying to affect the outcome of our Republican primaries,” Wahl said.
Wahl said the resolution endorses the idea of a closed primary, but does not recommend any specific method. States have different rules regarding the primary vote and party registration.
Only nine states have completely closed primaries where a voter wishing to vote in a closed primary must first be a registered member of the party, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states have partially open or partially closed primaries, where unaffiliated voters may be able to vote in a primary or where voters may change party affiliation on primary day.
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House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, a Democrat from Huntsville, said a closed GOP primary could lead to more extreme candidates.
“From Alabama’s perspective, I think it’s dangerous because you end up having the most extreme views in a primary,” Daniels said.
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But he said it could create more general election opportunities for Democratic candidates who would appeal to more moderate voters.