Virginia GOP To Require Primary Loyalty Oath
If you show up to vote in the Republican Primary in Virginia, they’re going to want you to make a promise;
The state Republican Party will require voters to sign a loyalty oath in order to participate in the March 6 presidential primary.
Anyone who wants to vote must sign a form at the polling place pledging to support the eventual Republican nominee for president. Anyone who refuses to sign the pledge will be barred from voting.
During a brief meeting Wednesday at the state Capitol, the State Board of Elections voted 3-0 to approve three forms developed by the election board’s staff to implement the loyalty pledge requested by the state GOP.
As for the loyalty oath, the elections board approved a notice to inform absentee voters of the pledge, a sign to hang at polling places and the pledge form itself.
Signs for polling places and the pledge form will advise voters that “Section 24.2-545 of the Code of Virginia allows the political party holding a primary to determine requirements for voting in the primary, including ‘the signing of a pledge by the voter of his intention to support the party’s candidate when offering to vote in the primary.’ ”
The pledge will require the voter to sign and to print his name beneath a line that says: “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.”
This isn’t new in Virginia. There was a similar oath during the 2000 primary, and the party tried to implement one for the 2008 primary but ended up withdrawing it after an uproar. The oath is largely unenforceable, of course. If you vote in the Republican primary in Virginia and then vote for a Democrat, Libertarian, or whatever in the General Election, nobody is ever going to know and you’d be entitled to vote again in a future Republican primary. Some Virginia Republicans, however, feel the oath is necessary because of the fact that Virginia is one of 20 states that have an open primary (in fact there is no party registration at all in Virginia), which leaves a party primary open to infiltration by outsiders.This is largely a meritless argument.
First of all, there is little evidence that any primary in Virginia, or any other open primary state for that matter, has ever been infiltrated to a large degree by voters from the opposing party. Second, Virginia law allows an open primary and the GOP chose to hold a primary rather than a caucus or convention. If the RPV wants to ensure that the party’s nominee is selected only, or at least primarily, by “party members”, then they should choose that candidate at a convention. Calling a primary in a state where primary voting isn’t limited to registered party members means that you accept the fact that people who aren’t diehard activist Republicans will have a say in who your nominee is.