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Rep. Collins on closed primaries: Has to be done in a ‘careful way’

During the 2022 summer meeting of the Alabama Republican Party state executive committee in August, the members passed a resolution that called for party registration and closed primary elections.

Many Republicans believe too many Democrats in Alabama are voting in the GOP primaries and corrupting the results of those elections.

Thursday, State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) joined WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program” to discuss the issue of open primaries in Alabama.

“I’m not hearing a lot of interest in that,” Collins said about a law implementing closed primaries. “But I will say this, it will be discussed, we will talk about it. I think a lot of people feel very passionately and there’s just a lot of different ways that we could do it.”

Collins said there are ways to reform the current process without discouraging non-party affiliated voters from participating in the elections.

“I think if you are a registered Democrat, you should not be allowed to vote in a Republican primary,” she said. “But we have so much of our population that aren’t registered as Republicans and Democrats that say they will vote for the person … and I don’t want to disenfranchise voters. And I also believe that a younger generation – Millennials, Gen-X, Gen-Z – they’re going to be less likely to participate in a strict party registration, and so I just think we’re going to have to be careful. We’re going to have to talk about it, we’re going to have to be very wise in what we decide to do.”

She highlighted a potential change that she believes is a good middle ground to receive enough support.

“The solution would be to encourage registration as a party,” she said. “And that way, whatever party you most affiliate with, that you would register in that, and then you would be voting. But if you were registered in any party, you could only vote in that party’s primary, and to me that is fair. For those who are not registered in a party, they would be open to all of it, but if you are registered as a Democrat then you could not vote in the Republican, and I think that was the concern that most people had with elections that they felt like were infiltrated.”

When asked if she thinks that kind of reform would just discourage most people from registering in a political party, she said, “I think that could be very possible what happens, but I think it’s the best way to at least start that type of process.”

Collins expressed optimism in the chances of her proposal passing the Legislature.

“I would think something like what I just recommended might have a good chance of passing, yes I do,” she said.

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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