Instead of pondering the idea that maybe she lost touch with the needs of her constituents, that maybe her district preferred a representative not so far left and not so conspiracy theory-minded, Cynthia McKinney is crying over spilled milk and blaming voters, not herself, for her defeat.

Bob Barr, the other major incumbent casualty in the Aug. 20 primaries, also is blaming his loss on Democratic crossover voting rather than the possibility that he stood too far to the right, set his sights much higher than the 7th District and laid down his constituents' concerns to wage an all-out battle to impeach Bill Clinton.

And because of McKinney's defeat, a group of her supporters wants to end crossover voting in Georgia, revamping the system that's been in place since Reconstruction.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) said he will introduce legislation in next year's General Assembly to prohibit Republicans from voting in the Democratic primary and vice versa. The legislation would require voters to register with a particular party to vote in that party's primary.

In fact, Brooks and his supporters say if such a process were in place leading up to this year's primaries, McKinney could still be in office.

Georgia is one of 21 states that does not require voters to register by party. As it stands now, Georgia voters can select at the polls in the primary election a Democratic, Republican or Independent ballot. Georgians must vote the same party in a runoff. (An Independent can vote either way.) But current law allows voters to vote either party's ballot in subsequent primaries.

This proposed legislation would hardest hit those who don't always vote along party lines but prefer to cast votes based on the person instead of the party.

Brooks' proposal would tie voters' hands by limiting their choices to one party. It is unclear if Brooks' proposal would allow voters to re-register under a different party to enjoy the voting freedoms we now enjoy. But even if re-registration is an option, it would inconvenience voters at a time when voter turnout is anemic at best. Why penalize the faithful few and have voters jump through hurdles just to cast a ballot to put the best man or woman in office? Doing so might further lower voter turnout.

Brooks' plan would specifically hurt South Georgia voters whose local candidates are often Democrats. Republican voters would have to decide whether to register and vote Democrat in local races or Republican in state-wide races. In this year's primaries, the contested races were mostly Republican.

Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Calvin Smyre summed it up nicely: "Any time you take choice out of the hands of the public... you meet quite a bit of resistance."

Often a fallacy is a more palatable pill to swallow than the truth. Despite reports that both politicians likely still would have lost regardless of crossover voting, McKinney and Barr cling to a hope that they might've had a chance at victory if Republicans were forced to vote Republican and Democrats likewise.

In the end, voters shouldn't be penalized because of a couple of sore losers.



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