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Alabama may join 14 other states with closed primary elections, preventing crossover influence from voters registered with a different party.

According to an article on AL.com earlier this week, Republicans are expected to vote on a resolution this month, and Alabama GOP Chairman John Wahl confirmed on Monday that one of the resolutions under consideration at the party’s summer meeting in Montgomery is to close primaries.

Alabama GOP Chairman John Wahl

“The ALGOP Resolution Committee is in the process of finalizing what will be presented to the State Executive Committee on August 13,” Wahl said. “One of those resolutions is concerning closed primaries.”

Earlier this summer, Wahl signaled his support of closed primaries, but his support alone won’t change the current structure. Shifting to a closed primary would require a vote of the Alabama Legislature. The Legislature consists of a Republican supermajority, a make-up that is unlikely to change after the November general election.

Other states that run closed primaries include Alabama’s neighbor to the south, Florida, along with Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

Open primaries have been praised and criticized from leadership in both major parties, leaving each state’s future status uncertain. Republicans capitalized on open primary elections during the 2008 Democratic Primary Election, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were in a fierce battle for the party’s nomination. Fueled by the late talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Republicans voted for the candidate coming off of a loss in the most recent primary, as part of an organized effort that Limbaugh labeled “Operation chaos.”

Alabama already held its primary for this year’s midterm election, back on May 24th. It also held a runoff on June 21st, which saw a dismal turnout of 13 percent, ranked as among the worst election turnouts in Alabama in the past 35 years.

Matt O'Hern

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