After Plan To Close Primaries In Tennessee Fails, GOP Lawmakers Propose A Watered-Down Alternative | Nashville Public Radio

After Plan To Close Primaries In Tennessee Fails, GOP Lawmakers Propose A Watered-Down Alternative

Mar 6, 2019

Some Republican lawmakers in the Tennessee General Assembly are not giving up on a proposal to close the state’s primaries.

Last week, a bill that would’ve required party registration in order to vote in state primaries, was overwhelmingly defeated. But a watered-down version is moving ahead. 

The latest proposal by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, gives voters the option to register with a political party. If they choose to sign up, they would only be allowed to vote in the primary that matches their affiliation.

Independent voters would still be able to cast a ballot in the primaries of their preference.

The Tennessee Republican Party wanted closed primaries, and chairman Scott Golden said the new bill gives him hope. 

“The fact that it’s been discussed in the legislature, I know it’s a positive step in the right direction,” he said.

But Democrats are not on board with the new bill either. 

Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said he fears the measure will eventually end up closing primaries. 

“I hope it’s not a step. I hope this bill doesn’t pass and that is not an effort to create closed primaries.” Stewart told WPLN. “But it does seem like this is an effort to get that process underway.”

Stewart says if the bill is successful and primaries end up being closed, it would steer the parties to what he calls the most radical voters.

Stewart says he hopes the resistance to closing primaries remains bi-partisan.