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Montana Republicans Consider Legislation and Lawsuits to Change State Primary Process

Crossover Voter
Photo courtesy of Jon King

Montana Republicans made it known this week that they would like to change the way their state primary works, but Republican Party Chairman Will Deschamps says there are still a lot of decisions to be made.

“The caucus that attended the convention has decided that they would like to see the republicans either register by party, or have a top-two tier election, or have a runoff election… this is not a done deal yet,” Deschamps said.

There are two main avenues the party can take to change their primary: either through legislation or through the courts.

“There is case law supporting a suit like that,” Deschaps said. “It could be done. I don’t like to go to court, every time you go to court it costs money. Particularly in a case like this, it would be very expensive because of all the expert witnesses that you’d have to either fly-in, or higher, or pay for, to show and prove that there were crossover votes because that would be the basis of the lawsuit.”

Deschamps says he prefers the legislative route, but believes that it will be hard to convince the state democrats to close their party’s primary. Even if the Republican Party is closed, he says, it will only slow down crossover voting and won’t prevent it completely because crossover voters will just change their registration according to whatever new guidelines are approved.

Will Deschamps:

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