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.