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Jonathan
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 01:52 am:   

I know this should be obvious - I should know - but a friend asked me a question, and I don't have a good answer. He asked:

'what does it mean when people in the USA refer to being "registered Democrats" (or Republicans, or independents)? In a secret-ballot system, what is the purpose or usefulness of registering party affiliation?'

Any answer would be appreciated.

J
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 06:35 am:   

Being registered as a dem, republican, etc. helps the parties in isolate their base for the purpose of polling, advertisment, getting contributions, etc. It really has no bearing on the ballot.

Who do you like in the Austailian election which is, I believe, today?
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Jonathan
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 09:00 am:   

Hey Lucius - The Australian election is actually over and done about four hours ago. I had preferred the mildly more socialist Labour Party (close to the Democrats, I guess), but the right wing conservatives have been returned to power, to my disgust and dismay. I've been voting for 22 years, and I'm yet to vote for a winner.

As to registering, I get what you're saying. I just don't get why it's a sometimes mandatory thing and why it's part of enrolling to vote. It would make sense if it was the equivalent of joining a party, but I believe it's not. If I understand, the government makes citizens declare their party allegiance when enrolling to vote. That sounds a little odd.

J
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 09:15 am:   

My today is your yesterday. My condolences. I know how you feel.

You can register as an indepedent , which is what I do...but, other than the reasons I stated, I imagine it;s partly a relic rule, a holdover from another time that nobody's seen fit to change
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 02:58 pm:   

Jonathan---

I know people who deliberately join the party they don't like so they can (a) get a better idea of what that party is telling its own members and (b) help skew the polls in advance of any elections.

One of the other reasons that we register with our parties is so our parties can then lean on us for money to pay for the candidates' campaigns.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 03:56 pm:   

I think that registration means different things in different states. In some (I think most?) states, you have to be registered with a party to vote in that party's primary, which decides among several candidates who is going to be the party's nominee for the election. So, for example, I'm registered as a Democrat in Massachusetts, which allows me to vote in the Democratic primary. But I'm not allowed to vote in the Republican primary. Massachusetts differs from many states in that my husband, who is registered as an Independant, can vote in either primary. I think most states don't allow Independants to vote in a primary. That seems to be the law in New York, from what I can tell from a very quick online search.

In some states, one party or another is essentially always elected to certain positions (Massachusetts for example goes heavily Democrat), so the election is essentially decided in the primary.

Hope that helps! :-)
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Anna T
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 05:43 pm:   

About those people claiming to be "registered Democrats", this article is interesting.
"You aren't a Democrat"
http://www.counterbias.com/117.html
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Anna T
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 05:53 pm:   

On declaring affiliation, this is a very hot issue in Washington state, which used to have open primaries, which were declared unconstitutional in 2003. There is currently an initiative that will be voted on in the upcoming election, and the Explanatory Statement (which talks about the US as a whole in addition to State particulars) in the Voters Guide explains the situation about all this very well.

http://vote.wa.gov/guide/measures_stmt.tpl?key=1002

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