Proposal circulating in Montgomery would close state primary elections

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While Alabamians have already voted in the this year’s Presidential Preference Primaries, that hasn’t ended the conversation in 2016 about the state’s elections.

A plan circulating in the Legislature would make Alabama one of 31 states who allow only registered Republicans and Democrats to vote in their respective primaries.

SB 360 by Sen. Tom Whatley would close Alabama primaries; mandate a voter be registered with their party at least 14 days before voting in a primary; and  prevent voters from switching parties in between a primary and primary run-off.

Currently Alabama – like Deep South neighbors Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi – has open primaries. Some observers have said open primaries leading to voters casting “strategic” ballots, seeking to influence the outcome of a party they do not identify with.

Alabama gave 44 of its 55 Democratic delegates to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received nine during March 1 elections, as part of the newly-established “SEC Primary,” which saw

Donald Trump took the lion’s share of Republican delegates, winning 36 out of 50. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was awarded 13 delegates while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio managed to snag one.

Trump and Sanders have both done better in open-primary states than those with traditional closed primaries and caucuses.

SB 360 is co-sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward and Sen. Trip Pittman. Anonymous sources told Alabama Today on Thursday there is “much GOP support for this proposed legislation.”

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