Lawmakers to study closed primary election voting
EUREKA SPRINGS — Arkansas legislators will study a proposal to close primary elections to voters in opposing parties.
The interim study proposal was adopted Thursday along with seven others at a joint meeting in Eureka Springs of three legislative committees.
Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, proposed the closed primaries in House Bill 1977, which he filed March 6 during the regular legislative session. It was recommended for interim study 10 days later.
After Thursday’s meeting, Dotson said he thinks closed primaries are a good idea.
“If you have multiple candidates that are in a party primary, and no candidates in a corresponding Democrat or Republican primary, there’s obviously some incentive for voters in that particular district to possibly pull a ballot and pick the candidate they would want to run against in the general election,” he said.
In other words, currently a Democrat could vote in a Republican primary election for a weak candidate in an attempt to get that person elected as the party’s nominee and thus help a Democrat win the general election. Or vice versa concerning the political parties.
HB1977 would have required voters to declare their political party affiliation before voting in a preferential primary election or a general primary election. Voters would have to register with a political party at least 30 days before the election in which they plan to vote.
HB1977 was provided to legislators Thursday as interim proposal 2017-013.
Dotson said the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research will study the issue and make recommendations to the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee can then meet and discuss it before the next regular session of the Legislature in 2019.
That committee met Thursday at the Basin Park Hotel in joint session with the Senate and House Committees on City, County and Local Affairs.