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ALGOP passes resolution calling for party registration, closed primary elections

MONTGOMERY — During the 2022 summer meeting of the Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) state executive committee, members overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for party registration and closed primary elections.

Debate over closing the state’s party primary elections to members of the opposite political affiliation intensified this past election cycle, as it is believed that a large number of Democrats participated in the GOP primaries.

The controversial Senate District 27 election, which featured State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) and Auburn City Councilman Jay Hovey, triggered discussions over the potential for party registration.

It has been alleged that Hovey, who earned the district’s GOP nod by a single vote, was the beneficiary of Democrat voters that cast Republican ballots to oppose Whatley’s reelection bid.

A spotlight was placed on the contentious issue when Auburn University creative writing professor Anton DiSclafani, a self-described “left-leaning Democrat,” authored an op-ed in The New York Times detailing that she had cast a Republican ballot to help defeat the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.

The effort to close Alabama’s party primary elections was supported by ALGOP chairman John Wahl, who recently took exception to what he asserted to be Democrat “influence” in Republican elections.

“I don’t know anyone who thinks that’s a good idea or a good thing,” Wahl said of crossover voting in a recent interview. “Republicans shouldn’t be voting in Democrat primaries and Democrats shouldn’t be voting in Republican primaries. That’s just the way the party system works.”

Republican ballots cast in the recent primary elections overwhelmingly outnumbered those cast in the Democratic Party’s primary. The uptick in GOP primary participation represented a 40% decrease in voter turnout for the state’s minority party from the 2018 cycle.

ALGOP’s approved resolution, which passed the body with 81% of members voting in favor, noted that Alabama was among the minority of states that do not require voters to register by party. Presently, there are 31 states that require party registration.

The resolution states in part, “Open primaries have led to Democrat voters’ ability to legally cross over party lines and vote in the primary of the Republican Party and influence who the Republican nominee will be in the General election, delegates to the Republican National Convention, and County and State Republican Executive Committee positions …”

As ALGOP’s resolution is not legally binding, it will require an act of the Alabama Legislature to officially enact party registration and close the state’s primary elections.

The resolution was cosponsored by dozens of local GOP officials across 12 county Republican Party executive committees.

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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