The Washington Post reports: The loyalty pledge to the Republican Party that Virginia voters will be required to sign if they vote in the state's GOP presidential primary on Feb. 12 is another attempt by the party to police the open primary system.
On Feb. 12, a GOP primary voter will have to sign a piece of paper that says, "I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for President."
Party officials said Wednesday they are worried that Democrats and independents have infiltrated past GOP nominating contests. The state does not require voters to register by political party, which means a voter can decide on the day of the primary whether to participate in the Republican or Democratic primary.
Political analysts say it is rare for a partisan voter aligned with one party to vote in the other party's nominating contest. But some conservatives say Democrats and independents helped Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) win his 1996 primary against James C. Miller III. In 2000, Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) urged Democrats and independents to vote for him in Virginia's GOP presidential primary. But McCain lost to George W. Bush by 59,000 votes. -- Virginia GOP Gets Strict on Voting - washingtonpost.com
Update (6 Dec 2007) from Rosanna Bencoach, Policy Manager, Virginia State Board of Elections: The party’s State Central Committee on 11/30 voted to not require a pledge, overturning the request made by the party’s Chairman a few weeks earlier. The request to rescind the party’s previous request for a pledge still needs to be submitted to the State Board of Elections and formally acted on by the Board at its next meeting on 12/20.
The state law allowing the political parties to request that presidential primaries be held also allows the party to require such a pledge (Code of Virginia § 24.2-545). The provision was put in the law to allow for different and changing national party rules on delegate selection and binding. Pledges are not allowed or required in Virginia primaries for other offices, but may be (and have been) required by party rules for non-primary nominating events. Virginia has open primaries, and any voter may vote in either primary (but not in both primaries held on the same day).
To try to clear up confusion in various articles, some reporters stated that the requirement to sign the pledge before receiving the ballot was “unenforceable.” In fact, it was the content of the pledge – the promise to support the party’s nominee for president in the upcoming election – that was unenforceable. If the pledge had not been rescinded, local election officials would have been instructed that they could not provide the Republican primary ballot to any voter until they had signed the required pledge, as was last done in the 2000 Republican presidential primary in Virginia.