Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Noxubee County Mess

The Noxubee County voting mess is now on trial. It is the first time under the 1965 Civil Rights Act where whites were the objects of voting discrimination where they were intimidated from voting in the Democratic primaries. While I think Ike Brown is a flaming racist, I do agree with him on letting Republicans voting in Democratic Party primaries. I think they should vote in GOP primaries and stay out of the Democratic primaries.

However, there is just one flaw with that: There is no party registration in Mississippi. I asked an attorney from the Secretary of State's office if a Republican can be barred from voting in the Democratic primary. He said the only way that can happen is if the Republican goes in there and screams he's a Republican and thinks Democrats basically suck. I have voted in Democratic primaries and have had no objections from the Democratic poll workers. I voted in the U.S. Senate Democratic primaries of 2002 and 2006 and the Presidential primary in 2004 (Obviously, the GOP had no corresponding primaries.). I had no problems voting. Unless you raise a partisan stink, a Republican can vote in a Democratic primary.

Ike Brown's lawsuit forbidding open primaries may bear fruit. Do you remember the 2000 Presidential primaries in California? The state legislature said it was okay for independents to vote in the party primaries (pick one party). The results would be reported in two formats: One primary counting just the registered party voters and another showing the registered party voters and the independent voters. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that format.

I talked to a couple of state senators and they told me the chances of a bill mandating party registration has as good a chance of passing as a snowball lasting ten minutes on a sidewalk in Key West, Fla. But Ike Brown has a point: Republicans ARE voting in Democratic primaries (and vice versa in Rankin County) and may just vote for the weakest Democrat. Why should the Republicans have the right to vote in a Democratic primary. And why can't the Democratic Party disallow Republicans from voting in their primaries (Remember: The reverse question is valid for Rankin County. And I do know of die-hard Democrats voting in the Republican primaries in Rankin County.)?

If party registration does pass, it will not cripple the blacks or the Republicans. It will cripple the white Democrats--especially in the State Legislature. You can bet your sweet bippy if party registration comes to pass, many white Democrats who tend to vote in Democratic primaries will actually register as Republicans. With the exception of a very small minority of blacks, blacks will register Democratic. White Democratic legislators will either be forced to run in a primary where there is a majority black registration---and probably lose---or switch parties. If you look at past voting in statewide Democratic primaries, the MAJORITY of voters in those primaries are black.

The big gainers in all this will be blacks and Republicans (Talk about an unholy alliance.). Blacks will win the vast majority of primaries and will probably see their legislative and local numbers vastly grow. But so will the GOP. Conservative white Democrats will more than likely vote for the Republican than the Democrat. The only area of Mississippi where white Democrats would outnumber black Democrats would be in the northeast corner of the state (That's where House Speaker Billy McCoy is from.). It may be that a white conservative Democrat may be an endangered species in this state.

Watch this Noxubee County case very carefully. If Ike Brown comes out a winner in this case and his lawsuit on party primaries prevail, it will vastly change Mississippi politics. Even if Brown loses his lawsuit, he may press Democratic Party state chairman Wayne Dowdy to start excluding Republicans from the Democratic state and local primaries. And it may bring pressure among black legislators to press for party registration. The funny thing it would probably pass the State Legislature---thanks to Republican support! And Haley Barbour---a Republican partisan if there ever is one---would gladly sign the bill!

Don't you just love politics in this state? There is rarely a dull moment. And shoot, the year has just started.

1 comment:

Cliff Brown said...

Again, you made many true statements, but you missed a few points. You failed to figure the number of voters who would register as independants if we went to party registration. Many of the people who habitually vote for the same party every time in the general election don't want to be labled as part of any party. They vote party line then run around saying that they vote for the "Man not the party"

There are people who make a living making and selling lists. Tellamarketers can buy lists of names and phone numbers of people with certain buying habits. Those same list makers look for voting and donating trends. The fact that those lists are harder to make with out party registration makes the lists more expensive. If the small less connected politicians could simply read a public list of registered voters he would not have to pay for research. Those list makers would loby against party registation.

I have never voted in the Dems primary and will not this time because I am running for election as a republican and want to vote for my self. I do see why people want to keep the right to wait until election day to decide which primary they will vote in. Some may want to vote for the candidate less likely to win the general but I beleve very few do that because it prevents them from voting for contested candidates in their own party. I believe some see it as a sefety net to prevent crooks from even getting to the general. I also know many people who actually do not know that they can vote in either primary.

Every time I have ever been in a conversation about party registration some one always brings up open primaries. There might be a few good things about open primaries but all I have to do to make people cringe is say "New Orleans"