Next week, the Alabama Republican Party executive committee will likely consider a motion to recommend the Alabama Legislature institute a closed primary system to determine political parties' nominees for future general elections.

The possibility of a closed primary has been raised in the wake of the State Senate District 27 outcome, ultimately decided by one vote for Auburn City Councilman Jay Hovey over incumbent State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn).

That contest included some Democrats openly claiming credit for Hovey's victory by casting a ballot for him in the GOP's primary.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill explained how that primary system would work during a recent appearance on Birmingham radio 105.5 WERC's "Alabama's Morning News."

"What we're talking with the resolution that may be introduced at the Republican Party meeting on the 13th of August is whether or not we will have party registration at the point of voter registration," Merrill explained. "If you're already a registered voter, then you would indicate in your voter registration record whether or not you'd like to be designated as a Republican, as a Democrat or as an independent - or as another party candidate if that were an offering."

According to Merrill, there are currently 31 states with party registration for so-called closed primaries. Fourteen are Republican-dominant, and 17 are Democrat-dominant, with Kentucky and Florida recently becoming majority Republican.

Merrill did not commit to a particular preference one way or the other regarding closed primaries but instead advised the Alabama Legislature to follow the party's wishes.

"[M]y preference is whatever the parties want to do is what the legislature would do because the parties are the ones that run the primaries because of the preference in whether they set up the cycle as opposed to a convention, a caucus, or a nominating committee meeting," Merrill said. "That's left up to the parties or the party leadership."

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