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Closed primaries push dropped from Tennessee bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee House panel has stripped a bill of a state GOP-backed push to allow only registered party members to vote in election primaries.

A subcommittee on Wednesday advanced Republican Rep. Tim Rudd’s amended bill. It now allows, but doesn’t require, registration with a political party and closes primaries for only those voters. Voters who don’t could still pick their primaries.

Last week, a House committee soundly rejected a closed primary bill.

Tennessee voters currently don’t register with political parties. They pick the primary ballot of their choice. Tennessee law requires primary voters to be “bona fide” party members or willing to “declare allegiance” to the party.

The state Republican Executive Committee has pushed the closed primary idea. Republican Gov. Bill Lee and former GOP Gov. Bill Haslam oppose it.

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