Thoughts on crossover voting

In Wyoming, crossover voting is currently permitted by state law. Being as Wyoming allows open primaries with partisan registration on the day of the election, this raises the question as to whether crossover voting should be permitted or not.

Liz Cheney’s campaign has asked members of other parties to switch their party affiliation in an attempt to hold her seat in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Republican Party has clearly voiced their opposition to the idea of crossover voting. 

In a recent emailing, the Wyoming Republican Party criticized Liz Cheney’s campaign for encouraging crossover voting with the plea, “help us stop Liz and the Democrats!”

In the emailing, Wyoming’s Grand Old Party (GOP) tells voters “Liz Cheney is asking Democrats and Independents to ‘crossover’ and register to vote as Republicans to take over the Wyoming Republican Party and recreate it in her woke image…Liz Cheney and her liberal allies have met with and coordinated with liberal candidates to run for Republican Precinct Committeeman and Republican Precinct Committeewoman positions to take over the Wyoming Republican Party and make it more like the Democrat Party by packing the Republic Party leadership with liberals.”

Wyoming’s open partisan, with partisan registration, open primaries allow for Democrats to legally switch their party affiliation to Republican so they may vote for the candidate of their choosing, in either party.

Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, West Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have the same laws surrounding primaries as in Wyoming.

Montana, Texas, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Mississippi, Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and Vermont have open partisan, with nonpartisan registration, open primaries. In these states, anyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation in the primary election.

The remaining states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Florida all have closed primaries. These states do not allow voters to change their party affiliation or vote in other party primaries.

Some states have allowed Independents to vote in primaries for one of the other parties. The Democratic Party in Washington for example, has amended its rules to allow Independents to participate in their primary elections.

There is a key difference between the primary election in August and the general election in November. The primary election’s purpose is for parties to vote their ideal nominee to be the forerunner in the general election. Republicans run against Republicans, Democrats run against Democrats in the primaries and any other established party candidates runs against their own.

In the general election, voters decide who will occupy the offices up for election. This means all partisan candidates who were elected in the primary election will now run against the other partisan candidates. Voters will choose which candidate most aligns with their principles. 

The Wyoming GOP’s thought behind allowing crossover voting is that crossing over to another party would damage the party going forward. They believe they would not have as strong a candidate as they would like with other party members being permitted to vote in the primary.

The reality of the matter is the majority of Goshen County voters and Wyoming voters are registered Republicans. The impact of crossover voting is insignificant in this largely conservative county and state. 

As of July 1, 2022, Goshen County had 6,389 registered voters. Of the 6,389 registered voters, 20 were registered Constitution Party voters, 716 registered Democratic Party voters, 23 registered Libertarian Party voters, 5,059 registered Republican Party voters and 551 voters who were unaffiliated with any party.

In the state, of the 282,207 registered voters, 754 were registered Constitution Party voters, 42,285 were Democratic Party voters, 2,633 were registered Libertarian voters, 200,579 were Republican Party voters, 34,925 were unaffiliated voters and 31 were registered in parties no longer recognized as political parties in the state of Wyoming.

Clearly, the Republican voters outnumber the combination of all the other parties in Goshen County and Wyoming.

The intent of a primary election being to vote a candidate which most represents the platform of their party precludes those from other parties influencing the vote. However, with Wyoming allowing voters to change their party affiliation to vote in the primaries, they are allowing the voted representatives to be chosen by a greater whole than of only the party voters.

I feel primary elections in Wyoming should be open. There simply aren’t enough Democrats running for office in Wyoming to justify this argument. I could understand the argument if there was a Democratic presence on the primary election ballot, but there isn’t. 

Another matter, local offices shouldn’t be partisan. County commissioners, municipal councils, the sheriff, clerk, treasurer, etc. should be voted for based on their philosophies for county and municipal governances, not for the platform of one political party.

At the state and federal level, candidates must run under a party affiliation due to the current standing of our partisan system. It is highly unlikely candidates running for these offices would get elected if they were running under the color of a party not recognized or as prominent as the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

The bottom line is voters need to know who they are voting for and what those candidates represent. Votes should not be cast because “I saw his/her sign on the way in” or “I’ve seen them on the television.” Voters must research candidates to make a well-informed decision on whose name they will mark on their ballot. Votes need to be cast for the candidate which will best represent their community, state and nation.


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