October 05, 2002
Confessions Of A Malicious Crossover Voter

Silflay Hraka and others have noted the lawsuit in which five of Cynthia McKinney's supporters allege that she was defeated by 'malicious crossover voting' and demand a recount or a revote (I'm not sure which). Their claim is of course nonsense. It is obvious that the vast majority of Republicans who crossed over to vote for Majette did so because they preferred Majette as their representative and knew that -- barring sudden death, severe illness, or incarceration -- whoever won the Democratic primary would be their representative. I can even imagine that a truly malicious Republican might have wished to keep McKinney in Congress to embarrass the Democrats for two more years.

There is such a thing as malicious crossover voting. I have done it myself. When I lived in Alabama in 1992, I asked for a Democratic primary ballot and voted for Jerry Brown. Alabama voted quite late in the primary season, and it was obvious by then that Buchanan and Brown had no chance of beating the front-runners, Bush and Clinton. (All the rest had already fallen by the wayside.) I voted for Brown just to make Clinton's primary victory that tiny bit less impressive, which I thought would have a minuscule but still useful effect in making him less likely to be elected once he was nominated. If I had been a Democrat, I would have asked for a Republican ballot and voted for Buchanan for the same reason. If I had been a Perot voter, I would have had to decide whether I despised Bush or Clinton more, since Alabamans are allowed to vote in either primary, but not both. Rightly or wrongly, I thought that decreasing Clinton's margin of victory would be more effective than increasing Bush's. (I wonder what a statistician or political scientist would say about that?)

Perhaps crossover voting in primaries should be eliminated. It would make an interesting debate topic, with (I imagine) plenty of angles to explore. The argument of McKinney's supporters, that it should be eliminated retroactively, seems (to this non-lawyer) morally and constitutionally absurd. Then again, I thought the argument that Torricelli should be allowed to call in a tag-team substitute candidate just because he was losing was absurd.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at October 05, 2002 11:53 PM