Arizona Bill for Closed Primaries

Arizona currently has semi-closed primaries (for office other than President). Representative Thomas Thorpe, the Speaker Pro Tem, and five other Republican representatives have introduced HCR 2014. It would alter the Arizona Constitution to say that only registered members of a party may vote in that party’s primary, for all office.

If this bill passes, then the voters would vote on the idea, because it is a constitutional change.

As worded, the bill violates the associational rights of political parties that want to let independents vote in their primaries. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that if a party wants to let independents vote in its primary, then the government cannot block that policy.

Ironically, if this bill became law, the current law making it extremely difficult for Libertarian candidates to get on their own party’s primary ballot would be clearly unconstitutional. The existing law, which is already being challenged by the Libertarian Party in the 9th circuit, says that Libertarian candidates must obtain thousands of signatures to place themselves on a Libertarian primary ballot, but that independent voters can sign such petitions. If the law forbade independent voters from voting in a party primary, then it seems obvious that the law could not continue to allow independents to sign primary petitions. And if independents couldn’t sign Libertarian primary petitions, then the law would make it literally impossible for Libertarians to get on primary ballots (because there aren’t enough registered Libertarians) and the law would be obviously unconstitutional.

Alabama Bills to Make Ballot Access Worse

Alabama HB 193 and SB 164 are identical bills that would make Alabama ballot access laws even worse than they already are. They would change the independent presidential petition from 5,000 signatures to 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, and move the deadline from August to March. They would also change the petition deadline for non-presidential independent candidates from primary day (which is March in presidential years, and June in midterm years) to 90 days before the primary.

The authors are Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and Representative Artis J. Campbell (D-Livingston). The bills appear to attempt to convert Alabama to a top-two system. However, they provide that Democrats and Republicans still wouldn’t need any petition, but would get on the primary ballot by paying a filing fee, whereas all others would need a petition of 1% of the last gubernatorial vote. The bill also says that party labels would consist of “Republican”, “Democratic”, and “other proper party designation.”

The bills also say that if anyone gets a majority of the vote in the primary, that person would be elected, but the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a similar law in Louisiana, as applied to congressional elections, in Foster v Love in 1997.

The bills don’t change the definition of “party”, which is currently a group that polled 20% for any statewide race in a general election.