So, let’s talk about ‘primary’. According to Merriam-Webster, primary is:
1. First in order of time or development
2. First rank of importance or value
3. Of or relating to preparation for something else
4. Of or relating to a primary election/primary candidate
I want to focus on #4 (oh, we’ve been here before, ha ha). We all probably know what a primary election is and how the results will affect general elections both state and national. This is a kind of weeding out of candidates so that a smaller number will appear on the general election ballots, allowing voters to make a more clear choice. A majority vote is, perhaps, easier to attain when there are only 2 or 3 to choose from instead of 10 or more.
So here is my issue: in order to vote in a primary election in Kansas, one MUST be affiliated with either the Republican or Democrat party. Independents and/or non-affiliated persons cannot vote at all. I am registered as independent (unaffiliated) and when I went to vote I was told that I had to choose a party and vote on that party’s ticket! I could change back to independent status after I voted and then, when the general election came around, I could vote as an independent or non-affiliate. This seems wrong to me.
I decided to do a little research and check out voting laws in all of the 50 states. Much to my surprise, not all of the states use the same voting rules! And, there are several divisions of regulations that serve all of the states. It’s turning out to be confusing at best!
First – there are Partisan Primaries:
1. Closed Primary – one cannot vote unless registering with a major party
2. Semi-closed Primary – aka ‘Political Primary’ – the party has the option, but is not obligated, to allow or disallow unaffiliated voters
3. Semi-open Primary – the political party MUST allow unaffiliated voters to vote
4. Open Primary – anyone can vote. Regardless of party affiliation, the voter can vote and participate in the primary of his/her choice
Second – there are Non-Partisan Primaries:
1. Top-Two Primary – all candidates are on one ballot, and voters can vote for which candidate they prefer.
2. Jungle Primary – This election occurs on the same day as the general election. If a candidate gets 50% + 1 vote, that candidate wins. If no candidate gets 50% + 1, the top two candidates have a ‘run-off’ election.
Each state has its own set of voting procedures, so if you want to know which is where, there are several places with lists of how each state is set up on line. Again, thank you Google! But, basically, I think we should have the right to vote in a primary with or without a party affiliation! My right to vote shouldn’t be under the umbrella of party affiliation.
The next step here would be finding out how to facilitate a change in the state’s rules for voting. In Kansas, one has to be a Republican or Democrat to vote in a primary. My question is: “Who decided that,” “When was it decided,” and how, if possible, can the decision be changed.
When I went to the polls to vote, because of these rules, I was faced with a choice that I shouldn’t have had to make. If I wanted to go ahead and vote, I had to give up my ‘independent’ status and ‘play the political game’ so to speak. By doing this, I would have compromised my principles and standards, and I felt like I shouldn’t have to do that. The alternative was, to not vote this time, wait for the general election and then not make a fuss!
I’m not going to tell you which decision I made because it’s personal and none of your business anyway (ha ha), but, having my right to vote vs my right to be independent is not a choice I should have had to make!
Just a thought …