By Sarah Westwood

Crossover voting, wherein voters deliberately switch parties during a primary to influence the election of the opposing side, could be playing a role in which candidates are proceeding to general contests in this year’s midterm elections.

The phenomenon is on display in Colorado, where several thousand registered Democrats have dropped their party affiliation in Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R) district ahead of a primary there later this month. One Democratic voter who reregistered as unaffiliated this year told Colorado Public Radio he did so in order to cast a ballot against Boebert because he disapproves of her antics.

Colorado has semiclosed primaries, which means independent voters can participate in either primary, but voters registered as Republican or Democrat must participate in the primary that corresponds with their registration. The shift in Boebert’s district is notable because voters must care enough about ousting her to change their registration. Because of that requirement, crossover voting is less common in closed or semiclosed primaries.

In at least 20 states, voters registered with a specific party don’t have limits on which party’s primary they can choose.

And in some of this year’s primaries, crossover voting has already become an issue.

Thousands of voters who cast ballots in the Georgia Democratic primary in 2020 crossed over to participate in the state’s Republican primary last month, according to an Associated Press analysis of early voting data.

That analysis found roughly 37,000 Democratic voters who cast early ballots this year for Georgia Republicans, which was more than the winning margin of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who avoided a runoff by roughly 27,000 votes.

Raffensperger had drawn the ire of former President Donald Trump for, among other things, refusing to validate his claims of fraud in the Peach State in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Trump had endorsed and promoted Rep. Jody Hice (R) in the primary challenge against Raffensperger.

The influence of Democratic crossover voting was so significant that some Republican activists in Georgia began calling this month for reforms to the state’s system that would ban the practice in future primaries.

After trailing primary opponent Katie Britt in the Alabama Senate primary, Rep. Mo Brooks (R) accused Britt of orchestrating a campaign to promote crossover voting and win with Democratic votes.

Brooks, who is currently locked in a runoff battle against Britt, said his opponent had worked “to pollute our Republican primary.”

“I hope all Republicans who want to protect the value of our brand, who want to stand together as a political party, will reject what Katie Britt has done in actively soliciting Democrats to participate in Republican primaries,” Brooks told an Alabama radio station.

The Republican congressman, who had Trump’s backing before the former president changed his mind and rescinded his endorsement, warned Britt could try again to court Democratic voters in the runoff contest June 21.

Britt’s campaign has denied seeking crossover votes.

The threat of crossover voting has loomed so large over the coming congressional primary in Wyoming, where Rep. Liz Cheney (R) is fighting for her political life, that Trump personally got involved in a niche legislative fight in the Wyoming chamber.

Trump endorsed a state bill in February that would have banned crossover voting in this year’s primaries, but the bill failed this spring.

His support of the bill stemmed from a concern that Democratic voters in Wyoming could vote for Cheney in the primaries in order to prevent her further-right opponent from nabbing the Republican congressional nomination.

Crossover voting, while prominent in the 2022 cycle, is not a new concept.

The late conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh famously encouraged a massive crossover voting effort, which he dubbed “Operation Chaos,” in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.

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To do so, he encouraged Republican voters to register as Democrats where necessary and cast ballots in the Democratic nominating contest, all with the goal of denying then-Sen. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton the ability to win decisively in the primaries.

In the 2008 Democratic presidential primary in Pennsylvania, roughly 100,000 crossover voters reportedly participated.

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