Some Republican politicians push for closed primary elections in Georgia

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 7:18 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A trip to the polls in Georgia is now at the center of a political debate.

Some Republican politicians believe too many democrats voted in the state’s GOP primary in order to vote against candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

In fact, the five statewide GOP candidates whom Trump had targeted for defeat, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, ended up winning their primary elections.

“The surge in voting in the Republican primary was principally driven by the disastrous fiscal policies of the Biden Administration. The heavy Republican primary turnout is a source of encouragement for Herschel Walker, Brian Kemp, Burt Jones, and the entire Republican ticket,” said Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer.

Political analyst Mark Rountree said the crossover vote is real but most voters don’t do it.

Early voting records found that more than 37,000 people who voted in Georgia’s Democratic primary two years ago crossed over to cast ballots in the May 24 Republican primary.

“It’s 7.6%. That might have been enough to help someone like Raffensperger clear the 50% margin that is true, but most people are not crossing over between the parties in Georgia. We have two very stark ideologies between the two parties here,” Rountree said.

The proposal to close Georgia’s primary system and not allow voters to choose the political party of their choice on primary election day is likely to face heavy opposition.

“Some political parties like the idea of a closed primary because it sort of purifies the party itself. It purifies it ideologically. The downside is it reduces the number of people voting in the primaries,” Rountree said.

While thousands of Georgians crossed over, statistics show that more than 90% of those who voted in the primary two weeks ago decided not to cross party lines. In fact, that’s been the case for the last four primary elections dating back to 2016.

CBS46 reached out to Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams about open vs. closed primaries to get their take on it. Kemp chose not to weigh in and Abrams supports open primaries saying it allows for more participation.