Senator Whatley Moves to Protect the Integrity of Primary Runoff Elections

By Tom Whatley


MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Tom Whatley’s Senate Bill 108 passed the Alabama Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 25-7. The proposal is designed to prohibit voters from switching parties between primary elections and primary runoff elections. The law currently allows a voter to participate in one party’s primary election then switch to another party during a primary runoff election.

Sen. Whatley’s plan will reduce the negative effects of cross-over voting, which occur when members of a political party vote for a weak opposition candidate in order to gain a more favorable challenger in the general election.

“I believe this bill will strengthen democracy in Alabama by making sure each party has a strong primary that results in the voters of that party getting to decide the winner, not outsiders looking to disrupt the process,” Sen. Whatley said. “My view is that Republicans should vote in Republican primaries and Democrats vote in Democratic primaries. This bill helps ensure the integrity of our electoral process.”

According to journalist Michael Harrington, an estimated 12 million Democratic voters cast a vote in a Republican primary during the 2016 election cycle. This accounted for nearly 38% of the total votes.

Under Sen. Whatley’s bill, voters would declare party affiliation ahead of primary voting and would be required to vote only for their declared party during the ongoing voting period.

The proposal now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senator Tom Whatley represents Lee, Russell, and Tallapoosa Counties. He is chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee. Follow him on Twitter: @SenTomWhatley