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Washington state Republicans: Disenfranchised by party oaths?

January 21, 2008

To vote for Ron Paul in the Washington state primary, I must sign an oath that I am a member of the Republican Party. 

I am not a member of the Republican Party.  I am not aware of any means of membership in the Republican Party, and have no interest in membership in the Republican or any other political party.  Like Woody Allen, I’m not sure I would want to be a member of a party that would have me as a member.

Only the Republicans were stupid enough to require party membership to vote in their primary.  The Democrats settled for a looser sense of belonging. 

According to the Pierce County Auditor’s website, to vote in the presidential primary February 19,

“Each voter must sign a one party oath, which will appear in the poll book for those voting at the polls, or on the envelope for those voting by mail.

“The major parties drafted the oaths to which voters must attest. They are:

Republican: I declare that I am a member of the Republican party and I have not participated and will not participate in the 2008 precinct caucus or convention system of any other party.

Democrat: I declare that I consider myself to be a DEMOCRAT and I will not participate in the nomination process of any other political party for the 2008 Presidential election.”

This is troubling.  In order to vote in the Republican primary in Washington state, a voter must sign an oath declaring himself a member of the Republican Party. Merely refraining from participating in another party’s nomination process is not enough. One must declare party membership–not a sense of affinity or allegiance, but membership.  There’s a certain Soviet sonority to this.

I have never joined the Republican Party. I have no idea how to do so nor interest in doing so. I prefer the language of the Democratic Party’s oath, that one considers oneself to be Democrat, with no party declaration required. But I do not consider myself to be a Democrat and have no intention of voting Democratic.

This is going to take some conscience grappling.  Washington is having both caucuses and a primary election, and caucuses also require an oath of party membership. Bad, bad, bad.

Why have Washington state Republicans done this? How stupid!  But stupidity leaves room for its own defeat.  There is nothing on the Pierce County Republican Party’s website that defines membership or explains how to join the Republican Party. 

It seems safe to presume that one can join the Republican Party for the purpose of voting in its primary, after which one can simply disavow one’s membership.  So I will declare myself a Party member for the sole purpose of voting in the Party’s primary, and will go ahead and publicly disavow that membership prospectively at this time.    I am a member of the Republican Party and will no longer be a member of the Republican Party after voting on February 19.  There.

  1. January 21, 2008 7:49 am

    It’s very clever: Only members know the rules for becoming a member.

  2. January 21, 2008 7:52 am

    Yes, it’s a Party trick to ensure that only mainstreamers can vote. The last thing the Mainstream Republican Party wants is a bunch of fringies voting for Ron Paul.

  3. Jane permalink
    January 21, 2008 8:22 am

    When we were attending Calvary Chapel our Pastor challenged us to make a pledge to visit an inmate at McNeil Island every month–this was an absolute promise not to miss and extended out into the sky blue yonder of the future. Jim commented that Scripture prohibits us from making an oath…I can’t remember where it is, but there is an admonition against making such promises. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that we put ourselves in bondage…as a Calvinist, we have no idea what a day will bring forth, and it’s presumptions to promise something that we may not be able to fulfill. Obviously the Republican Party will have none of this. However, it sounds like you have an adequate method of getting around the ridiculous rule….just don’t let them entrap you somehow. The voter regulations haven’t reached us yet, but probably we will be faced with the same thing soon…….

  4. January 21, 2008 8:35 am

    The language of the rule is “I declare that I am a member…” so I don’t see it as swearing by anything or an actual oath for all future dealings, which I agree would be Scripturally prohibited (Matthew 5:34 &c).

    We haven’t received anything either; I was being proactive, wondering why not.

  5. Jane permalink
    January 21, 2008 9:27 am

    Ah! I see. Yes, that would not be a problem scripturally. Yet, it’s a loss of freedom not to be able to vote ANY way that you choose. They’ve put us in a box.

  6. Fellow Paul Supporter permalink
    February 1, 2008 8:26 am

    I’m in the same dilema. I was considering appending the language to say “^not” in front of Republican. Sure they would throw my vote out, but I’m not sure how much my vote matters anyway. I guess my point was to use it as an opportunity to express my displeasure at the system and not let them cram me into a box labeled “Republican.” Not quite an act of civil disobedience, but definitely not one of compliance either. Even if Paul doesn’t get on the ballot, I’ll be writing him in come Nov.

  7. February 1, 2008 8:35 am

    I’m with you: there is nothing else to do. Come November we’ll all be enfranchised again. But not unified, by any means.

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