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To the Editor:

OK, so you’re sitting in your local Rotary Club meeting (or any other club) where nominations for your club leadership is in progress. Then, three non-Rotary members from the Lion’s Club walk in and sit down. 

As nominations are still being taken for the Rotary Club, each of the three visitors make nominations from among the Rotary members present, even though the visitors are not Rotary members.

Should their nominations be accepted? Of course not. Why? Because they’re not members of the Rotary Club. Common sense. It’s not ethical.

Then why does Tennessee allow voters from one political party to nominate (vote for) people in another party during primary elections? Good question (if I say so myself). Tennessee has what’s known as semi-open primaries, where voters ask for a particular party ballot (Republican or Democrat) to cast their vote. Currently 26 states have closed or semi-closed primaries, 21 have open or semi-open primaries, and 3 have “blanket” primaries (aka jungle primaries).

For Republicans, we are seeing members of the opposing party become more aggressive to “raid” the Republican primaries (crossing over) in order to have Republican opponents who are more closely aligned with their liberal policies, or they feel will be easier to defeat by their candidate. 

To counter this, citizens need to get the legislature to change the Tennessee Code to close the primaries by requiring political affiliation be added to voter registration in order to vote in a primary election. One must be a registered member of a political party in order to vote in the closed primary. 

In this manner we will have Republicans selecting Republican candidates and Democrats selecting Democrat candidates in the primaries. We all should remember it is in the GENERAL elections where candidates are elected to an office. And by their very nature general elections are open elections where ALL voters, including independents, can vote for either candidate of either party.

In December 2018, the TN GOP State Executive Committee (SEC) overwhelmingly passed a resolution (aimed at the state legislature) to close the primaries. The vote was 45 “ayes” to 14 “nays”. Your 14th District SEC members — Lynne Davis and myself — were two of the “aye” votes. 

It’s time now for citizens to put the heat on their state reps and senators to sponsor a bill to do so. It’s the ethical thing to do.

Jim Sandman


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