Law­mak­ers to study closed pri­mary elec­tion vot­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BILL BOW­DEN

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.

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