Texas’ open primary system is going to be on display.
As it should.
The state’s election system provides opportunity for polling-station mischief. There might be some of it played out Tuesday, but in this wacky, unpredictable, topsy-turvy election season it would seem to be the diciest of propositions.
Texans aren’t “registered” with political parties. We go to the polls with unmarked voter registration cards. We choose which primary to cast ballots: Democrat or Republican. We can zig or zag our way to the polling station of our choice.
How does the mischief come into play? There could be those who are loyal to one party but who might venture into the other party’s polling place to vote the candidate they believe will be the weakest against the candidate of their choice.
Parties are able to muster up concerted efforts in that regard, although it’s at times difficult to prove.
In 2008, heavily Republican precincts in Texas saw a huge spike in Democratic primary voter activity as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battled for their party’s nomination. Clinton won the primary and it was whispered that a lot of Republicans crossed over to vote for her hoping Democrats would nominate her to run against Sen. John McCain in the fall.
Indeed, I spoke to several Republican friends who actually admitted to doing precisely that: voting for Clinton and hoping she would be nominated.
It didn’t work out that way; Obama got the Democratic nod and went on to thump McCain in the general election.
Can such a thing happen on Tuesday? I keep reading about Republican Party “establishment” honchos sweating bullets over the prospect of Donald J. Trump winning their party’s nomination. Might that spur some Democrats to cross over to vote for Trump hoping to push the reality TV celebrity and real estate mogul toward the GOP nomination?
In another time and era, perhaps that could be the case. This year? Well, it might be a case of being “careful what you wish for” if such a conspiracy materializes across Texas. Democrats wanted Republicans to nominate Ronald Reagan in 1980 — and look how that turned out.
I’ve never been one to “waste” a vote by playing that game. I tend to cherish my vote as something that gives me pride. I’m not seeking to sound righteous. I’m just saying that in my humble view, game-playing with one’s vote cheapens this rite of citizenship.
Of course, I cannot possibly pretend to speak for others.
Let’s just see how it plays out.