Good Question: Why is Kentucky still holding closed primaries?

Good Question: Why is Kentucky still holding closed primaries?
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 1:53 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Why doesn’t Kentucky allow independent voters to cast a vote for primary candidates? It’s the topic of today’s Good Question.

Sheila asked, “Why is Kentucky still holding closed primaries?” she said, “I want to be able to vote for who I think will benefit myself, my community, and my state best. In today’s world, you would think we would be given that option.”

Well, Sheila, your question is really one for lawmakers.

State law determines who can vote in primary elections and Kentucky is one of nine states with closed primaries.

KRS 116.055 says in part, “No person shall be allowed to vote for any party candidates or slates of candidates other than that of the party of which he or she is a registered member.”

Those voters can still vote in special elections, like the one to replace Senator Ralph Alvarado, which are open to everyone.

Some states have open primaries, where you can vote in any party’s primary, no matter how you are registered.

When Secretary of State Michael Adams was on Kentucky Newsmakers in April, he said that’s probably going too far, but he would support a change in opening Kentucky’s primaries to unaffiliated voters.

“I don’t want to have Democrats voting in my primary, and I don’t want to have Republicans voting in the governor’s primary. That’s not fair, but I think letting independent voters pick one, that’s what a lot of states do,” said Adams. “New Hampshire does that, Arizona does that. And that makes the politics a little more centrist, if you will, and not as extreme because you’ve got independents that can change the result of the election.”

During that appearance, Adams also said he didn’t see that change happening anytime soon.

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