Updated (see note). Should Montana switch to primary elections closed to all but officially declared members of a political party? Republican legislative candidate Matt Monforton (Bozeman, HD-69, map) thinks so. Not pleased that Democratic crossover votes may have defeated tea partiers Scott Boulanger in SD-43 (map) and Mike Hebert in HD-11 (map), Monforton has drafted for next weekend’s Montana Republican Convention a resolution calling for closed primaries. If adopted, it would become part of the GOP’s platform.
In theory, a closed primary prevents crossover mischief and protects the right of a political party to choose its own candidates. In practice, a closed primary raises issues concerning the political privacy of individual voters.
I doubt Monforton’s closed primary resolution will be adopted, although the convention may well adopt a feel-good resolution denouncing those underhanded Democrats who had the temerity to cast legal crossover votes. There are three reasons why:
Monforton also proposes that the Montana Republican Party file a lawsuit “…to vindicate its First Amendment right to have Republican candidates selected by Republican voters.” If the GOP still wants a top two primary, and I believe it does, it won't approve such a lawsuit. And my legal sources tell me that if such a lawsuit is filed, it’s odds of success are very low.
Note, 16 June 2014. Monforton, as might be expected, disagrees with my analysis, and has posted a rebuttal on his legislative campaign’s Facebook page.