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Appeals Court upholds Hawaii’s open primary elections

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion issued today, has upheld Hawaii’s practice of holding open primary elections.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii had sued the state Office of Elections in 2013 and sought to limit participation in the Democratic primary election to registered Democrats only.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Democratic Party did not show that the open primary system burdens its “associational rights” or impacts candidates or messages, according to a state Department of the Attorney General news release.

Hawaii’s voters may vote in only one party’s primary election.

The lawsuit was initially filed in federal district court, with Judge J. Michael Seabright ruling in the state’s favor in November 2013, upholding the open primary.

Attorney General Doug Chin said in today’s news release: “The open primary is part of Hawaii’s commitment to make voting easier and to include more persons in the democratic process.” He added, “This ruling keeps Hawaii’s primary elections open to all registered voters, regardless of their formal party affiliation.”

This ruling has no effect on the 2016 primary or general elections.

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  • This is sad. When ANYONE, even members of the OTHER major party can vote in a Republican primary or a Democratic primary, what is the sense of having a primary ……. at all ? Parties have platforms. Parties are supposed to stand for what the party members believe in. That is why there are platform writing committees. The Court got it wrong on this one. I don’t know if the Democratic Party has enough money to take this any further and appeal this bad decision.

  • I’m glad the 9th Circuit ruled in favor of the state. They usually make horrible rulings, but I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. All registered voters should have a right to vote however they choose without having to declare a party. party affiliation is nobody’s business but the voter. Democrats wanted the law changed so they’d have a better chance of getting the strongest possible candidate into the General Election.

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