“I wouldn’t be too optimistic if I were [McDaniel]” says John M. Bruce, head of the University of Mississippi political science department. “This issue has already been adjudicated.” A 2008 decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said that in order for a ballot to be thrown out, poll workers would need to ascertain that the voters already were planning on supporting a different candidate a few months down the road. As Bruce says, “that’s not enforceable”. Bruce — who has lived in Mississippi for over 20 years, says that he can’t remember anyone ever discussing this section of the state’s election law at such length. The 2008 case was mostly unnoticed. “No one even thought about this law,” he noted.
And, as Daily Beast reporter Ben Jacobs points out, even McDaniel has taken advantage of the open primary system. He voted in the Democratic primary in 2003. Jacobs adds that “his campaign has declined multiple requests for comment as to whether he voted for the incumbent Democratic governor, Ronnie Musgrove, in the general election that year,” a move that, under McDaniel’s logic, would be illegal.
Conservative Republicans have also tried to use open primaries to their political advantage in elections past. In 2008, Rush Limbaugh encouraged Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in open presidential primaries in order to make the Democratic primary season a more protracted affair. Former Rep. Ben Jones encouraged Democrats to vote for tea-party challenger David Brat instead of Rep. Eric Cantor earlier this June in Virginia.
Washington Post / The Fix