Missouri’s primary elections are open, allowing voters to choose a candidate in a party other than the one they are registered with. A state Republican Party committee wants the legislature to make Missouri a closed primary state, requiring voters to register their party affiliation. Senator Gina Walsh (D-St. Louis) says closed primaries would create barriers for voters.

State Senator Gina Walsh (Photo Courtesy of Senate Communications)

State Senator Gina Walsh (Photo Courtesy of Senate Communications)

“I feel that it would be more restrictive. We’re going to exclude some people. We shouldn’t tell people who they can vote for and who they can’t vote for. That’s a step in that direction,” said Walsh. “I don’t know how you could have a closed election because they (Republicans) not only want to do it for the presidential primaries, from what I understand they’d like to do it for all the primaries. That’s what we had before. What’s the problem? Is it not working or why are they visiting this?”

Republicans say closed primaries would simplify the election process. Analysts say supporters want some control over who their party’s nominee is. Closed primaries would also require voter party affiliation to be public record.

Walsh says she can only speculate about what has prompted state Republicans to request the change.

“Maybe they feel that their party has been weakened by it (open primaries) and they see this as a tool to rebuild their party. Not being an insider and I follow what’s going on on the other side of the aisle. If you’re not inside, you’re surmising and I don’t want to begin to do that,” said Walsh. “We used to have straight ticket voting in this state. The majority party spearheaded eliminating that. So you can’t have it both ways. Is it not working or what? If we decide to have a closed state primary, then we need to re-initiate straight ticket voting.”

Eleven states have closed primary elections.