Vernon Jones calls on Georgia to close primaries by party

Vernon Jones, the Republican candidate for U.S. House for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, is urging state lawmakers to pass legislation to end open-primary voting in the state of Georgia. 

"This needs to be done and it needs to be done now," Jones told reporters during a news conference at the state Capitol on Monday. "Republican voters should be deciding Republican primaries. Democratic voters should be deciding Democratic primaries."

Jones finished second to Mike Collins in last month's 10th Congressional District Republican primary race. Collins and Jones will face off in this month's runoff.

Georgia does not register voters by party. Any eligible voter can request to vote in the party of their choice. State Representative David Clark and State Senator Elect Colton Moore, both Republicans, joined the candidate in calling for a change in election law.

"State Representative Clark and I plan to introduce legislation all in the name of election integrity.  I hope this can be a bipartisan issue.  I think it will be," said Senator Moore.

An Associated Press analysis of early voting records from data firm L2 found that more than 37,000 people who voted in Georgia’s Democratic primary two years ago, cast ballots in Georgia's Republican primary.

"This is not an alarming number of Democrats who crossed over in the primary, many of whom will cross over in the runoff.  When you are in a district that is mainly represented by Republicans you do have some of this crossover," Jones said.

Democratic political strategist and Georgia Gang panelist Tharon Johnson said in some of the congressional districts in North Georgia like District 10 many Democrats crossover and vote for a Republican candidate, when there aren't a lot of competitive races.

"These are not strong democratic voters, these are people we call swing voters," said Johnson. "They have voted previously in a democratic primary or a republican primary."

Georgia’s primary runoffs are June 21.