Why Bernie Sanders' supporters are right to be furious with New York's atrocious primary

The rules really did evoke the most insidious kind of voter suppression

Fans of Bernie Sanders were very disappointed at his primary loss.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The New York Democratic primary election on Tuesday aroused a substantial amount of controversy, as numerous people discovered too late that they had missed the deadline to switch their party registration and hence be eligible to vote in New York's closed primary. It might be tempting to dismiss this as sour grapes from Bernie Sanders supporters who couldn't get their act together. But this would be wrong. There really are serious problems with New York's primary election system.

But the problem is not with New York's closed primary system per se. It's reasonable for parties to want their candidates to be chosen by the party's members. And it's particularly hard to have much patience with attacks on the closed primary from the subset of independent voters who see voting as an individualistic consumer choice and feel that identifying with a major party would be inconsistent with their personal brand, but believe they should also be able to help choose a party's candidate. It's everyone's right to consider themselves better than the sometimes ugly compromises partisan politics entails, of course, but you can't have it both ways.

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Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is a professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., with a focus on the Supreme Court and constitutional law. He is a frequent contributor to the American Prospect and blogs for Lawyers, Guns and Money.