The sneakiness used to codify open primaries for the political parties has riled quite a few folks outside the Raleigh beltline. There are good points on both sides of the argument about letting unaffiliated voters vote in Democrat or Republican primaries. But the real point of concern on the power grab this week is that it is the latest example of consolidating political power into the grubby hands of a select few in our fair capital city.
The North Carolina Election Integrity Team has been fighting the good fight for election reform and clean voting in the state for quite some time. We obtained THIS email from NC EIT president Jim Womack to some members of his team which sheds some more light and raises a few more eyebrows on this week’s shenanigans on Jones Street:
[…] All;From talking to a dozen or so NC legislators and staff, I have come to the following conclusions about the insertion of language in Senate Bill 747 to permanently open all primaries to Unaffiliated voters in NC:1. Both Speaker Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Berger were in favor of this move to permanently open republican primaries to unaffiliated voters. I am told by staff that both believe taking the authority away from the respective state party chairmen prevents grassroots takeover in either party from upsetting the status quo in Raleigh.2. Although I did not hear this feedback directly from anyone, I believe John Kane’s run for NCGOP Chair may have spooked the House and Senate leadership this year. John ran a campaign clearly signalling support for the notion that Republicans ought to be electing Republicans in closed primaries; whereas Chairman Whatley, like his two predecessors, is fine with the status quo of open primaries. This section 17 insertion may be an indicator that legislative leadership is scared a real conservative leader might eventually take over the NC Republican Party.2. If there is one chiefly responsible person in the House for the insertion of the Section 17 language, it is House Elections Committee Chairman Grey Mills. He shepherded the PCS changes over a three week period, coordinated with his Senate counterparts, and personally managed the hearing in which this section passed out of committee.3. No republican amendments were allowed from the floor addressing this section of the bill when it came up for a full floor vote in the House. Speaker Moore controlled that process.4. Because of the importance of many key features in the S747 re-write in the House, leadership in both chambers were well aware all GOP legislators would support passage. The Section 17 language pales in comparison to the importance of the many other desirable provisions in the bill– poll observer protections, records retention changes, list maintenance changes, and cutting off receipt of ballots at 7:30PM on election day.5. This change in primaries means the percentage of registered voters affiliating with the GOP will continue declining over time. Today, Unaffiliated voters outnumber Republicans by 440,000 and that gap is expanding exponentially. Although democrat percentages continue to decline even faster than those of the GOP, the influence of center-left voters in GOP primaries will only grow over time. That influence will not, unfortunately, include an increase in funding support for the NCGOP. To the contrary, contributions from conservative donors will likely tail off over time.6. It will be very difficult to restore authority for closing primaries to the political parties, now that the authority is under the control of the general assembly.7. This is a big set-back for the conservative NCGOP rank and file.Warm Regards/Jim Womack[…]