GOP: Fayette County Taxpayers Should Pay Our Bills

Recently the GOP of Fayette County, Tennessee voiced interest in changing some of the local political races from non-partisan to partisan races. By doing this the candidates will have their party affiliation listed next to their name on the ballot. For this to happen the parties would need to hold primary elections. Primaries are meant to be for each party to choose its strongest candidate for the general election.

Primary elections cost a lot of money, and it comes from the taxpayers. The Fayette County Election Commission estimated that it would cost an additional $63,000 to provide the services for the primaries. With a population of about 40,000, it would cost almost $1.60 per person. The increased amount would most likely be added to county property taxes. If you are not already upset about Republicans who want to raise taxes, this might change your mind.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the newly taxed money would go only to the major parties’ primaries. Republican taxpayers would be forced to pay for the Democratic primaries and vice versa. That is, each taxpayer would be forced to help their opposing party determine its strongest candidate.

What if you’re an Independent or belong to a third party? Although members of the Libertarian Party, Green Party, and others would be forced to pay the tax, no third party is allowed to have primary elections. I will repeat that. No parties, other than Republicans and Democrats, are currently allowed to have primary elections by state law.

According to Gallup research polls released in January 2015, 43% of registered voters in the U.S. are registered as Independents. If that percentage even remotely holds true for Tennessee (we don’t know because the state of Tennessee doesn’t require party affiliation with voter registration), then this means countless Tennesseans are being forced to subsidize elections for parties of which they are not even members.

There is some debate as to whether the two major parties are private organizations or semi-public, but why should they be subsidized with tax dollars in either case if state law treats all other political parties as private organizations?

When the Libertarian Party (LP) of Tennessee lobbied a bill to make it easier for minor parties to be recognized by the state for ballot access, the state government attached a fiscal note to the bill. They claimed that adding another party on the ballot would cost too much money. Why? Because they were assumed that the state would have to pay for LP primaries. But if it’s too expensive for one party, why is it okay for another?

The state’s position is even more bizarre, considering the LP chooses candidates through internal elections at conventions, at no cost to the taxpayer. As a rule, in fact, libertarians are appalled at the notion of forcing citizens to pay for party primaries. 

To be truly fiscally responsible, each political party must fund its own process of choosing candidates. The money spent by each party should not come from anybody outside of that particular party.

ArticleJaron Weidner