Higdon Says He’ll Try Again With Open Primary Bill

An attempt to open Kentucky’s closed primary elections has been rejected by a House committee.

Under current law, Democrats vote for Democrats on primary day and Republicans vote for Republicans. Crossing party lines is not permitted until the general election. A bill sponsored by Senator Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon would let registered independents cast primary votes for Democrats or Republicans, but the measure fell one vote short of passage.

“Right now it’s an educational process. Every year that we’ve worked with the bill, we’ve gathered more support and I think in the foreseeable future this could very well happen in Kentucky,” he says.

Higdon’s bill cleared the Senate last month 23-13. Higdon says he will be back next year, because there are 200,000 registered independents in Kentucky who want to fully participate in the state’s electoral process.

Published by Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.