Friday, July 23, 2010

Questions From the Eldridge Affair

The Eldridge Affair in Cumberland County raises legitimate questions about Tennessee voting law:

Eldridge's lawyer has a point when he says that this entire affair could raise equal protection questions. Eldridge took the oath of loyalty, so there is no good legal reason to deny her a Republican ballot. The potential court case that might arise out of what I'll call the Eldridge Affair raises some very legitimate questions about Tennessee's primary voting laws and rules because those laws are incredibly inconsistent. It is extremely easy for a person to cross from one party to the other and go unchallenged, so much so that it happens all the time because we have no party registration in Tennessee. Yet our rules for that so-called "open primary" are written in such a way that the uninformed observer would think that our primaries are closed. The ability to challenge crossover voters in a way that could deny them the ability to vote in a primary is a hallmark of a closed primary system-although even in a closed system, there is always an easy means to switch parties should the voter choose.

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At Saturday, July 24, 2010 6:47:00 AM, Anonymous Steve Rankin said...

I came across a Tennessee column from last December that advocated that the parties be forced to pay the costs of their primaries.

In 1995, a federal appeals court said that, when the state mandates that parties hold primaries, the parties cannot be required to pay for those primaries (Republican Party of Arkansas v. Faulkner County).

As I understand it, Tennessee law mandates that the parties nominate by primary for governor, the state legislature, and Congress.

If a party was faced with paying for a primary, and it had a choice, it would very likely nominate by convention.

Steve Rankin
Jackson, Mississippi


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