Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary is Tuesday. Every voting precinct, including yours, will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Every voter in Georgia has a reason to head to the polls -- unless you voted early.
The Republican ballot features the names of Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Democrats who vote Tuesday will have only one option, Barack Obama.
Since Georgia has open primaries, any voter can choose any ballot on Tuesday. If you are truly an independent voter, you have the opportunity to evaluate all the candidates -- Republican and Democratic -- then choose the ballot that allows you to vote for your favorite.
But if you are a Democrat, you should stick with a Democratic ballot. Likewise, Republicans should stick with a Republican ballot.
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Rick Santorum drew criticism last week when he encouraged Democrats to opt out of Michigan’s Democratic primary and instead choose a Republican ballot so they could vote for him. He defended himself by explaining that no candidate can be elected president by only the partisans on one side or the other. However, the argument fell flat for many Republicans who felt that Mr. Santorum was encouraging Democrats to undermine the Republican selection process.
I agree with those who criticized Mr. Santorum. Crossover voting undermines the selection process for both parties. Georgia Democrats who choose to vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary in an attempt to cause “mischief” do a disservice to the process. If the situation were reversed, those same Democrats would be outraged by any Republican who encouraged their ranks to cross over and vote for the weakest Democratic candidate. They would accuse him or her of meddling in others’ affairs.
Beyond the meddling aspect, what does crossover voting say about our convictions? If you believe, as I do, that Barack Obama should be re-elected, the fact that Tuesday’s Democratic primary is uncontested is not the point. The point is that we will demonstrate our convictions with our vote on Tuesday. No matter your party, always vote your convictions when choosing someone to represent your interests.
So, if you are an independent voter, consider all the options then, on Tuesday, select the ballot with the candidate that best represents your convictions. If you are a Republican, consider the Republican options and vote your convictions on Tuesday. And, if you are a Democrat, vote Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter @KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.