Party registration would be a misstep

Published 7:00 am Friday, September 26, 2014

Thursday’s town hall meeting provided state legislators with a sampling of what their constituents feel are the most important issues.

While many of the topics focused on education, better infrastructure and the need for more funding for city first responder departments, some ideas stood out.

One idea in particular of concern came from a university student. He wants to see the state enact a law that mandates voters choose a party when they register.

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While the basis for his idea is credible in light of recent accusations that historically Democratic voters cast a ballot in a Republican primary, forcing voters to choose a party before they get to know the candidates prevents them from choosing the best possible one.

Mississippi is an open party state, meaning that any registered voter can choose whatever party they want in any given election. Of course there are some restrictions. During primary elections the voter is asked to choose a party, that day. If a run off is required the voter who cast a ballot in the primary must stick to the party they initially voted for that cycle. But, when the general election comes around they can vote on any ballot they want, regardless of party designation.

Certainly there are flaws in the system. Such as what occurred in Hinds County when voters who did not cast a ballot in the primary were free to vote in the run off.  Accusations ensued that claimed normally Democratic voters cast a ballot in the Republican runoff.

However, choosing a party prior to an election is not the answer. Not every voter chooses their candidate solely on their party affiliation. 

Many voters are learning what each candidate stands for, enabling voters to form a more informed decision on who should be a lawmaker. Taking that away would be a giant step in the wrong direction.