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Willful ignorance of the purpose of primary elections

By Scott Tibbs, February 18, 2016

It's unfortunate when the local newspaper's editorial board is so willfully ignorant of the purpose of primary elections. We saw this with the Herald-Times last week, when the editorial board complained that primary voters "cannot mix D's and R's when voting in May, as most voters do in the November general election." The editorial board further complained that the law "essentially makes it illegal to pick a ballot based on a desire to vote for the most contested races" and presents a "conundrum" to "politically independent" voters.


Primaries are not and were never intended to be for the general public. Primaries are for the political parties to choose their candidates for the general election. Someone who is truly independent should not be choosing a candidate to represent the Republican or Democratic parties. That should be up to actual Republicans and Democrats. This is also why I have always been opposed to monkeywrenching schemes like "Operation Chaos" in 2008.

Indiana technically is a closed primary state, though that is unenforceable. People can literally flip from party to party every primary election, or vote in the opposite party's primary whenever they want to either nominate the most beatable opponent or the one closest to the views of the other party. Because enforcement is based on voter intent and reading minds is not possible, there is no way to prevent this. That is why the state legislature should reform the primary system to make it more difficult to cross over, perhaps by having voters actually register as Republicans or Democrats.

So what if the party faithful nominate two "extremists" who are unacceptable to true independents? Those independents can always gather signatures to have a candidate placed on the ballot, or even for a third party to contest the two major parties in the general election. You do not have to gather any signatures at all to run as a write-in candidate, though I can personally attest that running as a write-in candidate is a huge barrier to being elected. Nonetheless, the options are there. Leave the primaries to the parties.