Other Voices

Should Democrats prank the GOP this year with crossover voting?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign stop Thursday in Exeter, N.H.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign stop Thursday in Exeter, N.H. AP

We have the makings of a political maneuver brewing for the March 1 party primary elections.

Democrats want to see the bombastic, cringe-inducing Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee. A calculating strategy would be to have Democrats go vote in the Republican primary to help Donald Trump win the nomination.

Texas has open primaries, meaning that any registered voter can participate in any primary to vote for that party’s candidates.

If you are truly an independent voter or had a recent change of political heart, we welcome you to whichever political party best suits you.

But to vote in the other guy’s primary election to distort the results? My advice is, don’t do it.

It is a bad idea, as we learned from Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos.

In 2008, by the time the primary season arrived in Texas, John McCain had the Republican nomination locked up.

Radio personality Limbaugh saw an opportunity to keep the Democratic primary contentious by encouraging Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton, who was trailing Barack Obama.

The idea was that if the vote narrowed, the Democratic candidates would bicker more, with a possible convention floor fight and a damaged candidate at the end.

When you vote in a primary, it becomes a public record. Your candidate choice is secret, but anyone can tell if you voted in the Democratic or Republican primary.

Participants in Operation Chaos were easy to detect after the fact. Their primary voting records showed patterns like “R, R, D (in 2008), R, R, R.”

In Texas, 7 percent of the primary vote followed this pattern.

Should Democrats return the favor this year and go vote for The Donald? Some good reasons why not:

▪ It’s just not right. Primaries are for the partisan supporters to select their nominees. Texas is flexible in that it allows independent and undecided voters to participate, but it operates under the assumption that everyone is sincere. Let’s not kludge the system by taking advantage of this openness.

▪ The strategy doesn’t work. There are just too many other sincere voters.

▪ You disqualify yourself from voting in your party’s primary runoff. If a candidate you like ends up in a runoff and you voted in the other party’s primary, you can’t return to your party’s voting table.

▪ When you vote in a party primary, your affiliation will be misidentified for years. You will get phone calls from campaigns asking you to donate, contribute, support and vote for candidates you don’t support.

▪ Your voting record will stay with you for pretty much forever. If you ever decide to run for public office, your voting record will still be there but the great reasons you had for voting in the opposition primary will have faded.

We want you to vote. Learn about the candidates and the issues. Help the parties select the best candidates for the general election.

And if you’ll stay out of my primary, I’ll stay out of yours.

Mark Bauer of Colleyville is president of the Northeast Tarrant Democrats.

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