To understand why this “rule change” by the Republican Party of Virginia is so ridiculous, readers would have to know that the Commonwealth of Virginia does not have voter registration by party. The primary procedure for voters in Virginia has been for registered voters to request which party’s primary ballot they wish to vote with. It is therefore considered a completely “open primary” by definition and according to Virginia’s current statutes.
What the VA GOP has done is passed a rule change that they will be using in their upcoming primary on March 1, 2016. It will require all voters wishing to vote on a Republican ballot to sign a “statement of affiliation” and each voter will have to print and sign their name to it. The statement reads as follows:
My signature below indicates that I am a Republican.
The first question that comes to mind is how in a state that does not register voters by party, does a voter know that they are signing a truthful statement? If they normally vote Democrat and sign this, there is no penalty as it is just an idiotic rule change that was recently made up. The party is claiming that this is legal because the party can make rule changes for their primary but this is not just a simple rule change, it in essence is changing the primary to a “closed primary” without an act by their state legislature. According to a statement on the RPV’s website, requiring a statement to be signed has happened twice before but in those instances the statements were much more detailed and at least made sense to the voter reading them.
If this is allowed to stand, it will not only totally confuse young, new voters but probably many other voters as well. In one of Donald Trump’s five tweet bomb on Sunday, he charges that it will disenfranchise many voters. Considering the Trump campaign seems to be attracting a good amount of crossover voters, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why Donald Trump is not at all happy about this recent new rule.
It begins, Republican Party of Virginia, controlled by the RNC, is working hard to disallow independent, unaffiliated and new voters. BAD!
If the Republican and Democrat parties of Virginia want to change to having closed primaries, maybe they should try going through proper legal channels such as their legislature first. A legal challenge to this ridiculous move should be initiated even though the Virginia State Board of Elections approved this Statement of Affiliation on December 17, 2016.
The other tweets on this issue can be found on Donald Trump’s twitter feed for December 27th.
The statement released on this matter by the Republican Party of Virginia is below and more related details on this statement can be found here.
The Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee (SCC) has set a reasonable threshold to participate in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary, signing your name to a very simple nine word statement that reads: “My signature below indicates that I am a Republican.”
The statement was primarily passed by the SCC with a simple goal: to ensure Republican voters select our Republican nominee in 2016. As this Statement of Affiliation gets discussed, many in the media are misconstruing its intent and terminology. It is not an “oath” or “pledge” in any way. It is not targeting any candidate, group of voters or an unreasonable barrier to voting. These nine words were used specifically to avoid any confusion or reference to past attempts.
Requiring the signing of a Statement is a far lower barrier to participation than in States that require Party registration for voters participation in primaries.