Update: Ed Morrissey has your answer:
In my experience in California, independents would often re-register as either Democrats or Republicans in order to participate in primaries, and then re-register again as independents for the general election. It’s perfectly legal, and it is part of the normal primary process. Most of the time it makes no difference at all, because most primaries of late have not had the same wide-open quality of this one after the first three or four states.
In this case, exit polls show “party identification” statistics that put 20% of the voters outside of the Republican Party. That’s their stated personal identification, not their actual party registration for last night’s primaries. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature, and it’s unavoidable — unless major parties want to stop re-registering voters altogether. I’m actually a little surprised that only 3% of the vote came from re-registered Democrats, considering the uselessness of their own primary this year, which still attracted over 1.6 million voters to the 1.8 million who voted in the GOP contest. Three percent of that vote would have been 54,000 voters, and yet McCain won by almost 100,000.
Yesterday afternoon, I noted reports of independents voting in the closed Florida Republican primary and pointed out the state law requiring that voters establish party ID by registering 29 days before an election.
One breakout that puzzles me though is the vote share by party identification. Romney and McCain were tied among Republicans (33-33), while McCain won [independents] 44-23…
If I’m reading the poll correctly, it suggests 17% of Republican primary voters identified themselves as having no major party affiliation, while 3% identified themselves as registered Democrats.
So was it closed or not? Pidot probes further:
Exit polls rely on the accuracy of the verbal reponses given by the pollees and of course, aren’t definitively dispositive of anything at all. But 17% of 1,500 respondents self-identifying as independents who voted Republican means something irregular, unless hundreds of voters chose to tell pollsters a similar lie…
…I e-mailed that county’s supervisor of elections at around 2 pm on primary day to inquire about the reported irregularity, but have yet to receive a response.
Given the possibility that as much as 20% of the 2 million GOP votes cast today came from independents and Democrats (enough to change the outcome), I think we do now need some answers…
Anyone got any?
A caller to Rush Limbaugh discussed the issue yesterday.
And here’s a letter writer complaining to a Florida newspaper that independents should be allowed to vote in the Florida primary. Looks like they did. What’s the complaining all about then?
I think it is about time we change our election rules and give the independent voters a chance to vote in the primary elections.
It is allowed in other states, but not all. This is unfair. It would also put Florida on the map as candidates would be here campaigning because of the date of our elections. How do we get this to change? We need it.
Port St. Lucie