Archive for the ‘primaries’ Tag

Crossing Over Illegal in Ohio?

Apparently more than a few northeast Ohio Republicans decided to cross over in the March 4th primary and presumably vote for Hillary Clinton by choosing a Democratic partisan ballot.

We’re used to hearing about partisans trying to game the system by voting insincerely for a candidate that they don’t support. Democrats attempted exactly the same thing in Michigan by voting for Mitt Romney since they knew their votes for President would not be counted due to DNC rules. But Ohio law is very different from Michigan law regarding the procedure in primary elections.

In Ohio, one is registered as a member of a political party by choosing that party’s partisan ballot at the polls. ORC3513.19 states:

It is the duty of any [poll worker] … to challenge the right of that person to vote … [if] [t]hat the person is not affiliated with or is not a member of the political party whose ballot the person desires to vote. (emphasis added)

Michigan, as well as other states, has no such provision that demands closed primaries for both parties.

In recent years, poll workers have not been challenging a ballot selection because there was no reason to cross over. Usually the nominees for President were all but known by the time we voted. A recent court case (Maschari v. Tone) affirmed that this provision was important and needed to be enforced.

Poll workers are instructed to look at the previous partisan status of a voter before determining whether or not a voter may receive a partisan ballot. If there are any questions as to whether or not the voter is sincere in changing his/her partisan registration, the voter is asked to sign a statement affirming that they support and desire to be affiliated with the party in question. If a majority of poll workers still don’t believe the voter, he/she must vote a provisional ballot.

Signing an affirmation doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but lying about one’s partisanship is, under Ohio law, prosecutable as election falsification — a 4th degree felony which can fetch up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. The Cuyahoga county Board of Elections will be voting shortly on whether or not to issue subpoenas to people who they believe lied when they signed their partisan affirmation statements.

I honestly hope there are some indictments over this. Mucking around in another party’s internal affairs is not only low, but it violates their 1st Amendment right to free association. People would be up in arms if enough Klansmen showed up to an NAACP meeting in order to change their policy, but for some reason we as a country not only don’t mind such gamesmanship, but actively encourage when such tactics suit our political goals.

What really bothers me is the horrid drafting of the law by the Ohio General Assembly. If they want open primaries, they should have open primaries. If they want closed primaries, then there needs to be a stronger mechanism for protecting the integrity of the process. Perhaps requiring those who want to be affiliated with a party to declare their preference 30 or 60 days in advance. That would reduce insincere voting due to the fact that the nominees are not likely to be known by then.