Witt: Some taxpayers stiffed in primaries

Published 8:03 am Tuesday, November 21, 2017

That fellow who a few weeks ago was so perplexed by the Kentucky liquor laws which kept him from buying a bottle of wine on a Sunday, subsequently encountered another situation in which current law seemed to make no sense.

He had declared himself an Independent voter (actually, the voter registration forms in Kentucky don’t recognize ‘independent’, only ‘other’) and realized he would not be eligible to vote in the 2018 primary elections because of a clause in Kentucky statute 116.055, which states: “Before a person shall be qualified to vote in a primary election, he shall…be a registered member of the party in whose primary election he seeks to vote…”.

This statute was last affirmed in 2010.

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Notice the only people considered “persons” are, apparently, men, since the statute only refers to “he,” not “she.” The women of Kentucky should be outraged!

Furthermore, since no independent party has ever had a primary election in Kentucky (well, maybe not since at least the Whigs), the gentleman realized that he was not going to be able to vote in the upcoming primary unless he changed his registration to either Democrat or Republican, a ruse that left a bad taste in his mouth.

In fact, before even making the decision to change his registration, he had begun inquiries into the reason why Kentucky primaries are closed to all except members of two political parties.

He discovered some 38 states presently allow some form of open primaries, which meant Kentucky, once again, is in the minority. He also found out as many as 45 percent of the national electorate describes itself as “independent.”

But what upset him most, perhaps, was the realization it isn’t only Democrats and Republicans who finance primary elections. Everyone in Kentucky who pays taxes does, including those who maintain their registration as ‘other,’ and they are being cheated by being taxed for something in which they cannot participate.

While all this was going through his mind, and before he visited the clerk’s office to change his registration, he wrote letters to the Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Sen. Ralph Alvarado and Rep. Donna Mayfield, as well as the Kentucky League of Women Voters and the Kentucky Board of Elections to try to generate some support for changing the law.

The Secretary of State said she couldn’t act against Kentucky law (although he was only asking her to use her position to lobby to change the law). Neither his senator nor representative deigned to respond to his letters. The League of Women Voters said it would have to conduct a study, which would probably take a year, and he hadn’t heard back from anyone on the Board of Elections at the time he decided to simply change his registration.

Although it should have been obvious from the outset, it suddenly clicked in his mind: neither Democrats nor Republicans have any interest in changing this insane law because it allows each of them to exercise greater control over the electorate, by keeping a huge segment of the voters excluded from participating in the process.

After his visit to the courthouse, and since it was still a weekday, he left to purchase a nice bottle of wine and a new supply of aspirin.

That splitting headache was beginning to manifest itself again.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.