NC GOP Continues Open Primaries


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N.C. GOP denies push for closed primaries
Posted: Nov. 21, 2009
Updated: Nov. 22, 2009

RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican primaries in North Carolina will continue to be open to unaffiliated voters.

GOP spokesman Jordan Shaw said the party's Executive Committee, comprising nearly 600 lawmakers and local political leaders, overwhelmingly rejected a resolution to allow only Republicans to choose the party's nominees.

Voters unaffiliated with a party have been helping pick who runs on the GOP ticket since 1988.

Republicans pushing for the change argued that party members should be the ones picking their nominees, because independents are more inclined to back moderates.

The resolution was adopted at the party convention in June, when a simple majority of committee members present usually is required for passage.
Many state leaders worried closed primaries would damage Republican chances to win elections in 2010. North Carolina's 1.4 million unaffiliated voters make up 23 percent of the electorate.

State party Chairman Tom Fetzer said Republican candidates benefited in the 1994 elections because the GOP welcomed unaffiliated voters at a time when the Democratic primary was still closed.

Unaffiliated voters have been allowed in Democratic primaries since 1996.
State law allows an unaffiliated voter to participate in one party primary but not both. A party has until Dec. 1 to tell the State Board of Elections it wants to prevent registered voters without a party from participating in next year's primary.
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