Virginia GOP Loyalty Pledge

According to this story and others, there is a “loyaty pledge” that voters have to sign to vote in the GOP primary in Virginia.

What is the point of this pledge?

Virginia has open primaries. Presumably the purpose of the pledge is to dissuade independent (or cross-over) voters. It might be intended as an anti-Trump maneuver.

To prevent Democrat voters from voting in the Republican primary and posting the vote with the less electable candidate.

In 2008, there was a similar issue with republican voters voting in the Democrat primaries because they thought one or the other of Hilary or Obama would be easier to defeat in the general election.

It apparently has no force of law, and there cannot be any enforcement mechanism because the voters’ subsequent votes will be secret. It’s just an attempt by the state GOP to keep non-Republicans from gumming up their primary, a la Rush’s Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos.”

Yeah, but if I’m a Democrat, what prevents me from just signing it anyway and voting? It doesn’t mean I’m now a registered Republican.

Fear. There’s also another possible motivation: data mining by the state GOP.

Fear of what?

Nothing. But it will prevent some people who take oaths a bit more seriously (no disrespect to you, I’d do the same thing) or who fear that there’s some form of enforcement.

Legal action. Most people are likely to assume that a voting-related document is backed by the force of law. Also, according to the black pastors suing the GOP in your OP, fear of being “outed” in the black community as GOP voters (which seems unlikely, but whatever).

Is there any possible legal action that could be taken? Also, what if I just sign it “Mickey Mouse”, would someone be there in order to check my signature?

Are people that scared about being labeled a Republican?

Another thing I just thought of - why is no Democrat leader (is there one in Virginia?) coming out to say “Hey, just go and sign whatever name you want and vote for [insert name].”

I believe your signature on a contract is binding even if you sign “Mickey Mouse”. as long as it can be proven that you’re the one who signed it.

That may be true, but this pledge doesn’t seem like a contract. It just seems to be a piece of paper that they collect. I don’t think it’s attached to a ballot or anything.

I suppose, in theory, they could prosecute you for voter fraud but this document is not issued by the state as far as I can tell. The actual facts are quite difficult to establish; I can only find news articles about what the VAGOP is doing.

That’s a gross oversimplification, but in any event this is not a contract. A contract requires mutual consideration, and there is consideration on only one side of this arrangement.

I see this could make people nervous, even if they think it is *probably *unenforceable.

This could have a secondary effect of preventing ‘defections’.

Statements people make or sign onto can psychologically lock them into a role or pattern of thought. It is possible that some percentage of people (who may self-identify as independent or soft Republican) who have signed that document would be less likely to switch their vote on election day.

It has no authority. It’s just an attempt at intimidation. Even if it carried authority it doesn’t mean anything anyway. You can be Republican one day and a Democrat the next. Here are the rules in Maryland, for example.

The rule in Maryland is not really relevant. Many states have closed primaries; others prohibit changing registrations for one election cycle.

I seem to recall it being enacted in the 2000 GWB/McCain primary in Virginia. The reasons stated at the time were to prevent independents/democrats from crossing over and voting for ‘maverick’ McCain. The idea was to get them to commit to NOT voting in the later Democratic Primary as a means of making sure ‘real’ Republicans only got to vote, i.e. for GWB.

I don’t think it has any force of law.

This is only true to a point. Yes, no one knows - in theory - how an individual votes. However, the fact of a vote by a registered voter is public information.

So if one signs a pledge and votes in the R primary, then later goes and votes in the D primary, that fact is easily obtainable. Therefore it can become known if a voter forswears their pledge.

No, the pledge is designed to get you to vote for the Republicans in the GENERAL election. The fact that you voted in the R primary and in the general says nothing about your adherence to your pledge.

(As I recall, in Virginia the R & D primaries are the same day in the same location; you come in and tell the poll worker which of the two ballots you want, so there’s no possibility of voting in both anyway. Is this not correct?)

Yeah, but why would this matter? I could just say "Well, I was Republican that day, but I switched after I heard [insert candidate here] say something I disagreed with, so I switched to Democrat.