With the issue of closed party primaries on the table for the 2023 legislative session, Republican proponents may have more evidence to bolster their case.

According to election records, Moshae Elise Donald, the Democratic nominee for Mobile County District Attorney, voted in the Republican primary in May.

Instead of opting to vote in her own party's primary, Donald told 1819 News she chose to vote in the GOP primary because she wanted her vote to matter.

"I voted in the Republican primary because I wanted to make sure that my vote had an impact," she said. "There were several listed races in the Republican primary that did not exist in the Democratic primary [either] because there was no candidate running in the Democratic primary or because there was no contested primary within the Democratic Party. I am a Democratic candidate, and I am also a strategic, intelligent voter.

"[T]here is nothing illegal or unethical about me casting my vote where it had the most local impact – especially for positions with whom I will have significant professional interaction," Donald continued. "My core values reflect those of the Democratic Party, and after evaluating both ballots and all candidates, I voted in the Republican primary for the best candidate in each category. In November, it is my hope that all voters, regardless of political affiliation, will evaluate each candidate and his/her platform and choose the person who will best serve their community well. And in my race, that is me."

Tricia Whatley Strange, the chair for the Mobile County GOP, argues Donald's vote was another indication of the party's need for closed primary elections.

"It's very disappointing," Strange said. "It's just one more reason why Alabama needs to close the primaries."

While no official bylaws prohibit a Democratic candidate from voting in an opposing primary, Strange said a GOP candidate that did the same thing would likely come under intense scrutiny from the party.

"It would depend on the position of the committee because all evidence is always presented to the committee as a whole," Strange said. "And sometimes, there have been people removed from the committee."

Donald maintains that her relationship with the Democratic Party is steady, and the party's support has been invaluable in her campaign.

"The support from the Mobile County Democratic Party has been incredible," Donald said. "Our chair, Ben H. Harris, III, has brilliantly led the charge of making the case for a turning tide in Mobile County. We understand that this race is all hands on deck, and the support is reflective of that. Several rounds of volunteers who have shown up to knock on doors, write letters, or spread visibility for the campaign have come from the Mobile County Democrats."

On August 13, the Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) executive committee overwhelmingly voted to approve a resolution supporting closed primaries.

The state legislature must pass a law to implement a closed primary system. 

According to ALGOP Chairman John Wahl, the purpose of closed primaries was to prevent those outside the GOP from determining the nominee.

"I think it's important, whether it is the Democrat Party or the Republican Party, that we don't have members of the other party electing our nominees," Wahl said on Phil Williams' 'Rightside Radio.' "And that seems common sense, but what I'm seeing is a trend more and more where Democrats are trying to influence who the Republican nominee is, whether it is Democrats running as Republicans or whether it is them voting in our primary."

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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