Political flyer creating a stir

Published 8:32 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018

A political flyer circulating around social media that may contain some erroneous information is also livening up the primary election season.

A masthead on the flyer read: GOP, Jefferson County Republican Party.

The body of text was as follows: “If you vote in the Democrat Primary, you will legally become a registered Democrat in Texas for two years. That party will get all of your information and data. As a new member of the Democrat Party, be prepared for all that will entail. Vote in the Republican primary if you would prefer to be a registered Republican, March 6.”

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Bruce Drury, a political science professor at Lamar University, believes the flyer was made to create “dissent and a little trouble.”

“There is no party registration in Texas,” he said. “In the (primary) election, one decides to be a Republican or a Democrat. I there’s a runoff, you have to vote in the same party you voted for in the primary.”

Drury is under the suspicion a Republican organization looking to justify a position put out the flyer with factually incorrect information.

Drury said some voters are crossover voters — members of one political party who vote in the other party’s primary election to choose their candidates.

“They can vote for another party if they want to. That’s their right,” he said. “The majority of voters here have been Democrats their entire lifetime. This year they’re attracted to this particular primary and there’s a little more competition in the Democratic Party.”

Judy Nichols is vice chairwoman for the Jefferson County Republican Party and a candidate to be chairwoman for the party. She currently holds no elected position in the party.

She doesn’t know who printed the flyer, but she thinks it has created more excitement at the polls in Jefferson County.

“This created a kerfuffle,” she said. “The only wrong thing it does contain is it states someone must be a member of the party for two years when it’s actually for one year. You can swear to a different party affiliation after one year. The rest of it is true. This was done by a well meaning individual.”

A primary election allows members of a political party to choose the party’s candidates for an upcoming general election, according to information from the University of Texas. Candidates who seek to be a nominee of one of the major parties in an upcoming general election must secure that nomination in a primary election.

The general election allows all registered voters to participate in choosing the occupants of public office from among the candidates of competing parties. To win the nomination in a primary election a candidate must win a clear majority (more than 50 percent) of the votes cast. If no candidate wins a majority — as often happens when more than two candidates run for an office — a runoff election is held between the two candidates that won the most votes.

Two types of primaries are used in the United States: open and closed. Open primaries do not require voters to declare in advance the party with which they wish to be associated. So, any registered voter may vote in any party’s primary – but voters can vote in only one party’s primary during a single primary period. Closed primaries require advance declaration of partisan affiliation in order to vote in a specific party’s primary.

Officially, Texas has closed primaries. But in practice, any registered voter may vote in the primary of any single party, as long as they have not voted in the primary of another party. Texas’s primaries are closed in a less direct way: once a registered voter has in effect declared his or her party affiliation by voting for the nominees in a party’s primary, that person cannot participate in the proceedings (for instance, a runoff primary or convention) of another party.