LLOYD GRAY: Primary purity or voter choice?

Explicit in Chris McDaniel’s challenge of the Republican senatorial runoff result is that only self-identified Republicans should be able to vote in a Republican primary.

Let pureblooded Republicans select Republican nominees and hard-core Democrats pick who runs in the general election under the Democratic banner. Anything else is a defilement of the process, the argument goes.

But this has never been the rule in Mississippi, and it’s unlikely that the average Mississippi voter would buy into the idea of having to formally register as a Republican or Democrat before being allowed to vote in either party’s primary, as some states require. Mississippians tend to want to vote for who they want to vote for, and many even resent the restrictions they face in having to choose one primary over the other when there are candidates in both they’d like to vote for on the same day.

As Mississippi’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has been in the middle of the electoral firestorm that erupted when Thad Cochran edged out McDaniel in the Republican runoff after courting Democratic votes. Hosemann told the Daily Journal editorial board on Friday that while a majority of party activists on both sides may now favor a “closed” primary and even party registration, never before seen in Mississippi, he suspects ordinary voters still want the freedom to choose which primary they vote in on a case-by-case basis.

Daily Journal
8/17/14