All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
South Carolina is one of the states whose voting procedures include Open Primaries. We do not have voter registration by political party here in South Carolina; you can vote in either primary (but not in both) every time, regardless of how you voted in the past and regardless of how you think you may be voting in November.
Are Open Primaries a good idea? They were instituted in the not-so-good past when one party – then, the Democratic Party – made accessing their primaries more difficult for Black voters than for whites. Open Primaries fixed that. But are they still a good idea now, in the twenty-first century? The answer is a matter of opinion; in my opinion, the answer is “yes.” Here is why.
Let’s say your own political leanings are more toward the center rather than what you might consider either the hard right or the hard left. For one office you are particularly interested in, you are pretty sure you know whom you will be favoring in November, but you don’t know that your candidate will win or lose when November rolls around. In the other party, you see one or more candidates that you think would be a total disaster, and one that would be less so – not as good as your favorite candidate, but not as extreme (in your view) as the others. An Open Primary gives you an opportunity to express that. You can decide to vote in the “other party” primary (while reserving your options for the November election), choosing the person who may be your second choice but certainly better than those others running. You can have a say in both parties: the candidate that you are thinking about voting for in November, and the not-so-bad opposition candidate as well.
What would be the result if everybody did that? In my view, the result would be more middle-of-the-road candidates from both parties in November, those with appeal not only to their own party faithful but also some appeal to the other party’s voters, too. That would help to weed out the more extreme candidates who may attract voters from their own party, perhaps voting while holding their noses, but virtually no support from the rest of the electorate.
So, I recommend you consider candidates from both parties, and then decide whether you would rather vote “for” somebody in your traditional party, or “against” somebody who would be a disaster, from the other party. Is somebody from the other party advocating policies you really detest? For me, I am looking to see whether any candidates vocally support “the big lie” that Trump won in 2020, and also have vocally opposed women’s rights, and also have come out in favor of banning books from public libraries, and also have opposed immigration for refugees from the religious and political wars of the old world. I can think of one candidate who has done all those things – so I know which primary I will be voting in, and whom I will be voting against.
Here’s the bottom line. Vote at every opportunity you have. The next opportunity is the primary election on Tuesday, June 14. Early voting is already in progress. Find out as much about the candidates as you can, and make your vote count!