Tennessee GOP Asks State Legislature To Do Away With Open Primaries | Nashville Public Radio

Tennessee GOP Asks State Legislature To Do Away With Open Primaries

Dec 3, 2018

For the first time, Tennessee Republicans have officially asked to make party affiliation a requirement in order to vote in a primary election.  

The State Executive Committee of the Republican Party has debated closed primaries since at least 2010. But, it never had support from a majority of its members.

However, on Saturday, the committee passed a resolution asking the state legislature two things: to include a question regarding party affiliation on Tennessee voter registration forms and requiring party registration in order to vote in a primary.

Scott Golden, the chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, points to a incident from the summer, where two Democratic candidates in Williamson County participated in the Republican primaries.

"We were very frustrated with crossover voting and the intentions that some of the Democrats did voting in the Republican primary," Golden said.  

Primaries in Tennessee are more or less open — meaning that any registered voter can cast a ballot. But there is some murkiness in the state law.

According to state law a voter need either to be a "bona fide member and affiliated with" the party they intent to vote for, or to be willing to "declare allegiance" to thatr political party. But the law doesn't define who is "bona fide" member.

In the past, there have been incidents of votes being thrown out and candidates losing nominations over questions about whether they are true members of their party.

The Tennessee Democratic Party has not yet commented on the proposal.