The Michigan Secretary of State website has a document that summarizes the state’s legislative history and laws governing presidential primaries. In 1995, the highlights of the changes to primary voting include the following two paragraphs:
This action returned Michigan to an “open” primary system whereby a registered voter would be issued the ballots of both parties and the voter would select the party primary in which he or she wished to participate in the privacy of the voting station.
The potential candidates’ names on the combined lists prepared by the Secretary of State and the political parties would automatically have their names printed on the ballot under the designated party heading unless the named individual filed an affidavit indicating that he or she did not wish to have his or her name printed on the ballot or wished to be printed on the ballot under a different party heading.
This gives Michigan voters a free hand to vote for any candidate from any party in the primaries. Thus, in theory, Republicans can select the Democrat nominee while Democrats can help select the Republican nominee. This is one of the results when liberals run the show; anything to dilute the vote.
The Michigan sample ballot lists all Republican candidates but only a few Democrats. Hillary Clinton is the only top tier candidate listed. Other Democrats include Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. If you support Barack Obama, you won’t even find him listed on the ballot! Obama is telling supporters to vote Uncommitted. Uncommitted is Michigan’s choice for those wishing to vote for none of the above.
The Democrats are on the horns of several dilemmas. First, they are crosswise with their national party. The official position of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is that any states holding a primary prior to February fifth will not have its delegates seated at the summer convention. Lucky for Michigan, this same threat also applies to the Florida primary. Michigan is rightly asserting that after the Bush v Gore fiasco of 2000, there is no way in hell that Florida won’t have their votes counted by Democrats. They assert that if Florida must be counted then their votes must be included also.
Ironically, it is due to the conflict with the national party that Obama asked to have is name taken off of the ballot! He followed the rules but Hillary decided that she was exempt.
Another dilemma is that it appears that in order to neutralize Clinton, the choice of Uncommitted must get more votes than she does. Should Uncommitted win, not only would this allow Michigan a way out of sanctions by the national party but it would be viewed as a victory by Obama. Delegates to the national convention would then likely be selected by the Michigan Democratic Party at a later date.
The third Democrat dilemma is the chance to tamper in the Republican primary. Democrats could cast votes for such Republican luminaries as John McCain or Mike Huckabee since they would be easiest to beat in November. Yeah, choose your opponent. What a country!
It is curious that no third party candidates are listed on the sample ballot. Where are the Greens, Constitution Party and all the rest? Apparently, they can be ignored because they don’t get a big enough percentage of the vote or they are chosen via a method other than a primary election.
Democrats have a mess on their hands. It may be the only thing that keeps Michigan in play for Republicans like Mitt Romney.