Great job by Democratic National Committee (DNC) member and Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) Steering Committee member Frank Leone in demolishing a bunch of “myths” surrounding the Virginia GOP’s “loyalty oath” for the March 1 presidential primary. Key points, with a bit of my commentary mixed in.
1. Despite the media’s relentless, dishonest attempts at creating a false equivalency between the Democratic and Republican parties, Leone explains that in fact both parties do NOT do “loyalty” oaths for Virginia presidential primaries. In fact:
…Since Va. Code 24.2-545 was adopted in 1999, parties may require voters to sign a statement of affiliation to participate in the state-administered presidential primary. Republicans required a statement in 2000, asked for a statement in 2008 and 2012, but withdrew their requests when outrage ensued, and have required a statement for 2016. Virginia Democrats have never required an oath to participate in their Presidential primary. Ever.
2. As I’ve pointed out as well, it’s a very different thing for parties to require loyalty “pledges” or “oaths” in party-run, party-paid-for, low-turnout caucuses and conventions. A primary, in contrast, is run and paid for by the state. Also important to note is that the Virginia General Assembly, in its infinite wisdom (heh), has not passed legislation to require registration by party in Virginia. In other words, if Republicans are so worried about Democrats crossing over and messing with their preeeeeccciousssss primaries, then why don’t they pass a law requiring party registration? Uhhhh.
3. This Republican “loyalty oath” fiasco is 100% the Virginia Republicans’ doing — Democrats had nothing to do with it. Nor, I’d add, did this blog, which the Virginia GOP’s Executive Director bizarrely attempted to argue the other day.
4. Frank Leone’s final point is an important one, and worth reprinting in full.
My primary concern with the GOP requiring an oath is it will be administered by non-partisan election officials who may have a hard time answering questions like: What does it mean to be a Republican? Does this mean I have to vote for Trump if he is the nominee? Can I vote for Trump if he runs as an independent. There should be a way to allow Democratic primary voters to bypass this nonsense.
Or, as a well-informed reader emailed me.
* Data collection for a political party is the responsibility of that party, not of non-partisan Officers of Election.
* This is clearly partisan political activity. By statute, partisan political activity cannot be conducted within 40 feet of the polling place entrance and is PROHIBITED inside the polling place.
* Officers of Election have enough to do already.
* Finally, the last thing we need is for Officers of Election to have to spend time arguing with knuckleheads who don’t want to sign the “Statement.”
My concern is not with the RPV Statement of Intent, or any other form of a party “loyalty oath.” My concern is that neither the local Electoral
Boards, the General Registrars, nor the Officers of Election (all volunteers) should be policing political party discipline and collecting personal data for a political party — for ANY political party. If a party wants its members to sign a notice of intent, they can do it outsidethe 40-foot limit, with their own people, at their own expense.
All excellent points. Having said that, as a partisan Democrat, I’m honestly thrilled that Republicans are pushing this divisive measure that is almost guaranteed to anger and alienate a lot of Tea Partiers and other independent conservatives. In other words, if you’re a Democrat, this is pretty much a situation in which we just thank our lucky stars that the Republican Party of Virginia is led by such “knuckleheads,” to use the BV reader’s highly appropriate word. 🙂