I’d like to briefly (and as always, respectfully) respond to last week’s letter continuing the interesting debate about open versus closed primaries.
The letter-writer asked, “What if a registered Republican or Democrat is unhappy with the choice of candidates on his/her party’s primary ballot?”
Of course, some “crossover voting” (voting in the opposition party’s primary) in open primary states involves genuine motivations.
But some “crossover voting is “strategic” – voting for the weakest opposition party candidate in order to undermine the opposition party – and that’s a serious problem with open primaries.
In many races, even small amounts of strategic cross-over voting can unfairly determine the vote, deny legitimate party members the right to choose their party’s candidate, and deny legitimate party members the right to choose a strong candidate who has the best shot at winning a general election.
There is also another answer to last week’s letter-writer’s important question: Someone who is unhappy with her party’s candidates can exercise her ballot access rights under New York state law.
For instance, she can collect signatures of fellow party members on a designating petition to place a preferred member of her party onto her party’s primary ballot.
Or (so long as she has not signed another designating petition), she can circulate or sign a petition to place a preferred candidate from any party onto an independent party line on the New York State general election ballot.
As Joe Lieberman’s 2006 Senate re-election in Connecticut proved, one can run on an independent line and win a general election.
New York thus provides ways for voters to place their favorite candidate on the general election ballot – without unfairly interfering with the choice of opposition party members.
Liz Berney, Esq.
This letter expresses the writer’s own personal views, and should not be attributed to any organization with which she is affiliated.