Mississippi Democrats Argue They Can Keep Outsiders From Primary

Ellis Turnage of Cleveland, Miss., representing the state Democratic Party, told members of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Mississippi’s current method of allowing anyone to vote in a party primary violates the Democrats’ right to association.

U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper in Mississippi ruled last year that the state should reregister all voters to allow people to declare themselves as Democrats, Republicans or members of another party. Or, Pepper said, people could register as unaffiliated with any party.

Pepper said Mississippi must restructure its party primary system by Aug. 31, 2008. Under current law, Mississippians do not declare a party affiliation when they register to vote. Pepper also ordered the state to enact a voter identification law in time for the 2009 elections.