Though Texas is a strongly Republican state, Democrats still have an outsized influence on elections—by voting in the Republican primary.
While these voters can be depended on to support Democrats in November, in March they can be found supporting more liberal Republicans against their conservative opponents. During the last campaign cycle, multiple establishment politicians employed Democrat strategists to help them tap into these voters and enlist their help in keeping their seats.
The reason? Texas has an “open” primary system.
Unlike many states who close their primaries and allow only registered Republicans to vote in the Republican primary and only registered Democrats to vote in the Democrat primary, Texas has an open system in which any voter can vote in any primary they wish.
The practice has come under heavy scrutiny from conservatives and partisans who argue that such an arrangement gives too much of a say to voters who don’t agree with their principles.
There’s a lot of support for their argument in the private sector. One would be hard pressed to find a Rotary Club that allows members of the local Lions Club to vote in its officer elections. Likewise, Southwest Airlines doesn’t invite American Airlines shareholders to vote on approving a new CEO.
At the Republican state convention, delegates overwhelmingly favored closing the Republican primary with a strong majority supporting the following platform plank:
“We support protecting the integrity of the Republican primary election by requiring a closed primary system in Texas.”
Lawmakers should support closing the primaries and ensuring that political parties can govern themselves.
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