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28 February 2012

Santorum's Appeal to Democrats Gives Georgia a Reason to End Open Primaries

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is appealing to Democrats in Michigan. Media reports say Santorum wants Michigan Democrat voters to crossover and vote in the Republican primary so that he can beat Mitt Romney.

This new Santorum strategy is obviously irking some Republicans. The Republican primary is, after all, exclusively for Republican voters. The purpose of the Republican primary (any party's primary, for that matter) is to nominate candidates who represent the Republican Party in the General Election. Democrats have no business voting in the Republican primary, just like Republicans have no business voting in the Democratic primary.

Santorum encouraging Democrats to vote for him in the Republican primary taints any victory he might achieve. In fact, Rick Santorum has just given Georgia lawmakers another reason to: A.) require party registration; and B.) restrict participation in the Republican or Democrat primaries only to those voters registered with either the Republican or Democrat parties.

Georgia currently has an open primary system. In Georgia's open primary, anyone can vote in either the Republican or Democrat primary. The voter simply "declares" their partisan affiliation on the day of the election. As a result, Santorum's Michigan strategy could work right here in the Peach State.

Again, Georgia lawmakers need to enact legislation that closes the party primaries and institutes party registration. Otherwise, opportunistic politics will continue to game the system, much like Santorum is doing in Michigan.