MTPR

Supreme Court Denies Challenges To Open Primaries In Montana, Hawaii

May 15, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday turned away challenges to open primaries in Hawaii and Montana.

Bozeman attorney Matthew Monforton, who served as a Republican Legislator in 2015, concedes this is the end of the line for Montanans who support closed primaries:

Matthew Monforton
Credit Montana Legislature

“This was our last shot. This was our last chance for Republican voters to take back their primaries and it will go nowhere from here on out. There’s no silver lining here if you’re a conservative Montanan.”

Montana voters do not have to be affiliated with a political party to vote in primary elections.

Open primary advocates say not requiring someone to register with a political party to vote in a primary is a win for privacy rights.

Hawaii Democrats and some conservative Montana Republicans challenged open primaries as a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of association.

But Matthew Monforton says open primaries allow, “Democrats, unions and establishment Montana Republicans to strangle conservative candidates during our primaries. They’re very good at manipulating Democratic voters to cross over in key legislative districts to vote for liberal Republicans rather than conservative Republicans," Monforton says.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not comment Monday in leaving in place rulings by the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the states’ open primaries.