Civics lesson: A primary election is how a political party chooses its candidates for a general election.
Policing that is easy when there’s actual, official party registration, as is the case in 28 states.
It can be problematic and a recipe for mischief in the other states where voters can crow all they want about their party affiliations, but there are no registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Whigs or anything else.
Alabama is one of those non-registration states and has seen some of that mischief in runoff elections.
Remember the 1986 Democratic gubernatorial primary?
Charlie Graddick, after the first round, came right out and asked Republicans to cross over and vote for him in the runoff against Bill Baxley. They did, he won — and had that victory stripped from the Democratic Party because of those crossover votes.
There were allegations in 2010 that Alabama Education Association supporters crossed over in the Republican gubernatorial runoff to give Robert Bentley the edge over Bradley Byrne.
Political parties have traditionally been given control over who can vote in their primaries, and both the Democrats and Republicans have banned crossover voting. As noted, however, it’s difficult to police that when there’s no force of law involved and no dedicated method for singling out violators.
That will change with the upcoming U.S. Senate primaries, where Democrats and Republicans will choose their candidates to permanently replace Jeff Sessions in that seat.
It will be the first election since the passage and signing into law this year of SB 108, sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn.
The bill statutorily bans anyone from voting in a…
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