A Waynesboro woman has sponsored a ballot initiative to make Mississippi's primary elections open primaries.
Initiative 57 would change Mississippi's current hybrid primary system, that is not really an open or closed system, into an open primary system. This mean voters would not have to declare their party affiliation to vote in a primary election.
"This will allow Republican, Democrat and Independent voters to select the candidate they believe is best for each race without being excluded the opportunity to vote due to their political party affiliation," the initiative reads. "Each voter is then given the power to show that their vote counts regardless of their political party but their morals, values and beliefs will be heard. Having an open primary will also encourage more people to show up on election day."
While Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann proposed legislation that would completely revamp the state's election laws, primaries were not included in that legislation.
“All of the people that have anything to touch in the election process were represented at the table when we drafted this, and we excluded some things, like open primaries," Hosemann said. "Those were excluded by the committee, which is fine, and we moved on.”
Hosemann initially listed primary election laws as a discussion topic for his election reform committee when it was formed two years ago. Since it was not included in the committee's proposed legislation, he said he does not plan to address party primaries.
“Party primaries are for the parties," Hosemann said. "They’re not for the government, and the government should be in a party primary. So you’ll never see me advocating that the government run the Republican primary or the Democrat primary. They need to run their own primary. They just need to follow the statue, and they need to run it. I think it’s a much better system. Then we run the general. You know, Gwen does and the election commissioners run the general. We shouldn’t be in a party primary.”