Note to the Sec of State and the Senator from Coventry: Forcibly Keeping Open a Primary Has Been Ruled Unconstitutional
… by the United States Supreme Court.
During the height of the debate several weeks ago as to whether the RIGOP should close its primary, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis declared that if a political party closes its primary, it would be a violation of state law. Further, the Sec of State stated that if the RIGOP decides to change its by-laws in order to do so, he intends the RI Board of Elections to intercede.
the office of Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis sent out an advisory that the state Board of Elections reviews all revisions to party bylaws, so that if the GOP Central Committee does vote to restrict who can vote in its primaries, the “state Board of Elections will be the setting for the next step in the process.”
Now, as Justin points out, Senator Leonidas Raptakis, Mr. Mollis’ probable primary opponent, has filed legislation reinforcing (?) existing law to keep primaries open.
Both of these gentlemen may want to slow down and review precedent in this matter. When the Connecticut Secretary of State tried to stop the Connecticut GOP from opening their primary, the US Supreme Court in 1986 said ix-nay. And when the California Secretary of State tried to force all political parties to go beyond an open primary to something I had never even heard of – a blanket primary: all primary candidates on the ballots of all party primaries, with all voters free to choose from the smorgasbord – the US Supreme Court in 2000 not only ruled against him but provided a remarkable historic example of what could have happened in one particular primary if non-party members had been permitted to choose a party’s candidate.
But a single election in which the party nominee is selected by nonparty members could be enough to destroy the party. In the 1860 presidential election, if opponents of the fledgling Republican Party had been able to cause its nomination of a pro-slavery candidate in place of Abraham Lincoln, the coalition of intraparty factions forming behind him likely would have disintegrated, endangering the party’s survival and thwarting its effort to fill the vacuum left by the dissolution of the Whigs.
In short, without a closed primary, President Lincoln might not have been the Republican candidate, he might not have been President and slavery … well, let’s just stop there.
The RI Board of Elections just finished wiping constitutional egg off its face from trying to uphold another dubious Rhode Island electoral law – one involving signatures and the RI Moderate Party. Don’t make them go through that again, messieurs.