Crossover voting not

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2000

legal in June 27 runoff


Staff Writer

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June 21, 2000 10 PM

Confusion around the political process is not limited to deciding for whom to vote.

The confusion comes in when people prepare to vote in the primary runoffs.

Those who chose to vote in the Republican Primary on June 6 can not legally vote in the Democratic runoff coming up next week.

However, anyone who cast a ballot in the Democratic Primary can cross over to the Republican runoff on Tuesday.

The Democratic Party has rules against crossover voting but the GOP does not ban such action.

Although there is nothing in the bylaws that prevents crossover voting, the Alabama Republican Party does not encourage it.

As far as Alabama Democratic Party executive director Phillip Kinney is concerned, it’s not likely crossover voting will be a problem since the party has no statewide runoffs and has local runoffs in only 24 of the state’s 67 counties.

Pike County Probate Judge Bill Stone said the poll workers will not be questioning voters, but encouraged voters to follow the rules set by party officials.

"It is not up to the local probate judge or polling officials to police that," Stone said of determining who voted in what primary.

Stone is quick to say "It’s not something to sneeze at" since crossover voting could subject a race to contest if the results are challenged.

That can happen.

In 1986, the Democratic Party rules against crossover voting were tested when Charlie Graddick, who was the Attorney General, encouraged people who voted in the Republican Party primary to cast ballots for him in the runoff for governor against Bill Baxley, who was lieutenant governor at the time.

Graddick led the runoff by a small margin, but he was stripped of the nomination because of illegal crossover votes.

It was 12 years later when the opposite occurred and GOP Winton Blount asked Democratic voters to support him in his gubernatorial runoff against Fob James.

Apparently Blount’s pleas worked because turnout jumped from 359,014 in the primary to 460,360 in the runoff, but he lost to James in that race.

Election officials are not expecting any such jumps in turnout this time since the Republican Party has only two statewide runoffs.

Locally, the runoffs for county commission and Pike County Board of Education are Democratic races.

As a matter of fact, Secretary of State Jim Bennett is only predicting between 5 and 10 percent of Alabama’s 2.3 million registered voters will go to the polls on Tuesday.