The Republican Party of Arkansas will vote on Saturday, Dec. 3, on whether to endorse a rule change in hopes of spurring legislation that would shift Arkansas to a closed primary state. State law now allows anyone to vote in whichever preferential primary they want. Arkansas is one of more than a dozen states with open primaries, according to 2021 data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
If the state moved to closed primaries, independent voters — or optional voters, as they’re officially known — wouldn’t get to participate in the nominating contests. That would exclude the vast majority of Arkansas voters. Although Arkansas is a solidly red state, 88% percent of voters are registered as “optional.”
At the party’s winter meeting, state Republicans will also vote on whether to require candidates who file to run as Republicans to be registered with the party. Are there recent examples of folks registered as independents or Democrats running as Republicans?
These people will vote on the proposed rule changes: state executive board members, county chairmen, state committeemen, state committeewomen, regional district reps, Young Republican chairmen, College Republican chairmen, Republican Women presidents, state senators and state representatives. The party’s rules committee unanimously voted each proposal down.
This move, presumably to eliminate crossover voting, is part of a broader trend. The Alabama Republican Party recently passed passed a similar resolution to move to a closed primary. But despite getting a lot of attention, crossover voting rarely makes much of an impact, according to this analysis.
If the rule change does make it through the party meeting and then through the legislature, look out for even nuttier Republicans winning office. As hard as that is to fathom.