Republicans Hijack Primary Election At High Cost

When U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill ruled that Republicans had a right to determine their candidates at at closed primary election, few people understood the ramifications of that decision.

The net result is massive confusion about who can vote for what or whom. Also we predict many voters will be so overwhelmed they will simply throw up their hands and go home–probably angry. Ada County chief election officer Chris Rich tells the GUARDIAN the process is expensive, noting he has hired 145 extra election workers–one for each precinct–just to explain the ballot. He also has produced several written documents which will be mailed to each voter.

It is such a mess that Republicans can vote in the Dems primary, but Dems aren’t allowed to vote in the Repub races. If you declare yourself as an “Independent” you get a ballot with only a couple of judge’s. Furthermore, your boss, your employees, and political adversaries can check the PUBLIC RECORD voter registration rolls to learn your party affiliation. This could be troubling to newsies–like the GUARDIAN–who profess to be free thinkers and not affiliated with any party: exercise your right to vote and get branded as a liberal or conservative.

The STATESMAN’s Cynthia Sewell did a nice piece today last week which offers some tips. She also explored the background with Rich in the SUNDAY paper.

The good news is it’s just a primary election and there will not be any confusion in November when there is no party declaration. Of course from a practical standpoint MOST of the Republicans who are elected at the upcoming May 15 primary will be sure fire winners in November.

ADA ELECTIONS website has all the info you need, including a way to find your polling place by entering your address.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Just another stupid thing from stupid people we elect!

  2. Diane Sower
    Apr 26, 2012, 9:15 am

    Go back in time and find this ludicrous situation. Post world war two. Pre anything. Pretty soon we’ll be fighting in the streets. These people will stop at nothing. And I do mean nothing.

  3. Well put BG. I checked with my county clerk to see if I could declare one party for the primary, then change my declared party the following week. The answer was yes. I’m sure lots of voters will do this causing even more wasted tax dollars.

  4. Jason Robinson
    Apr 26, 2012, 10:00 am

    You both lament the process, and then in the last sentence say it doesn’t really matter any way. So which is it? Does it matter, or does it not matter?

    If a person is so disinterested in politics that they can’t be bothered to research the primary candidates and make an informed decision as a registered member of some party, then frankly do we want that uninformed voter determining the November ballot? No. The reason there is a primary and then a general election is so that parties have the opportunity to determine their best candidate, and then so the general public can chose among the parties.

    And as to the difference between Dem & GOP, the democratic party made the choice to have an open primary, meaning unaffiliated voters can vote for Dem. primary candidates. That was their call. If you think it will cause confusion, then take it up with them. Don’t whine about the confusing differences while only blaming one side. The democratic party had to specifically opt out of the closed primary process in order to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in their primary.

    If someone isn’t mentally capable enough to understand the difference between a closed primary and an open primary and why they see which people on each ballot, then are they really going to be making informed choices based on the issues? Or are they just marking a box because they saw a sign for that name or because their church leaders told them to vote for “our person.”

    If someone insists on being a non-partisan free thinker and doesn’t want to have a party affiliation on record, then good. Don’t whine about not having a say in a specific party’s candidate choices, while also professing to be so nonpartisan as to be above party affiliation. Walk the walk.

    “Of course from a practical standpoint MOST of the Republicans who are elected at the upcoming May 15 primary will be sure fire winners in November.”
    If MOST of the Primary winners will go on to win in November, then the choice at the Primary becomes that much more important…. if you care enough to get involved.

    So get involved. Shape the candidates for which ever party you think most closely aligns with your values. Or don’t get involved due to apathy or nonpartisan observer ideals. But choose one.

  5. So how do I know if I’m a republican? Is my NRA card good enough for ID? Is there some kind of list? Is that why Mrs. Bush is still sending me those little envelops full of cute pictures and money requests? It took years for the Clintons to stop begging money. (I really wish they’d use different paper and no plastic in those mailers so I don’t need to separate it prior to burning.)

  6. I’m going to vote in both and I dare the Republicans to stop me. Want to arrest me? Take me to court? Go ahead, I welcome the constitutional challenge.

    What I mean is, I’m registering democrat and voting in the Republican Primary. How will they ever know?

    EDITOR NOTE–You declare at the polls and you get the appropriate ballot. No way to register one way and vote another in the primary. If you are not affiliated, you get to vote only to retain three judges.

  7. While I don’t agree with closed primaries (Rod Beck’s ideas are always the worst), it really isn’t rocket science. If you take 2 minutes it’s easy to figure out and understand. You declare and vote for either the R ballot or the D ballot. If you want to be that most prized of voters, the “independent” all you get is non partisan judge races. It’s not much different than previous primaries where you could only vote the R or D ballot. Easy peasy.

    For those who still can’t understand, do we really want these people voting?

    EDITOR NOTE–How about the privacy issue? Will union teachers want to get “outed” as voting Repub, or Repubs getting branded as liberal for voting Dem? Or media newsies labeled as “biased?”

  8. Jason Robinson
    Apr 26, 2012, 1:42 pm


    yes there is a list. That list is kept at the Ada County Elections office and is provided to each respective party.

    if you registered to vote since July 1 of 2010, then you had to check the box to declare affiliation. If you did not check any box, then you are registered, but are unaffiliated and will get just the non-partisan position ballot.

  9. Jason Robinson
    Apr 26, 2012, 1:46 pm

    nan emouse + Editor – yes there are privacy concerns. But Idaho is not the only closed primary state in the nation. Ask other states how they dealt with this issue.

    The Idaho GOP is hardly inventing the wheel here people. This is something that has been around in many many many other states for a very long time.

    Here, let me google that for ya:

    Regarding the privacy issue, there is no limit on the number of times someone can declare their affiliation. So, go declare at the poll for DEMs, vote in their primary, and then switch back to unaffiliated.

    Yes the DEM party will get an updated list with your name on it, but your CURRENT affiliation was unaffiliated.

    Yes the fact that employers or coworkers are so narrow minded as to care what your affiliation is, is itself a problem. And I know not everyone can simply change coworkers. This isn’t an ideal situation by far. Neither was it before the change.

  10. ” This could be troubling to newsies–like the GUARDIAN–” BG- How would you get in trouble when you are your own boss?

    What you see as a privacy issue, campaigns will see as a fabulous mailing list. They will know be able to direct mailings to the party faithful or to the not so faithful.

  11. The Repubs have made this mess along with the caucus that has removed my ability to vote for presidential candidates unless I travel 15 miles and sit through a several hour process.

    The party of less regualation, small government wanted to dictate personal medical decisions for women this last legilative session saying all life is precious yet they all stand four square in support of the death penalty. How do they reconcile this?

  12. Jason Robinson
    Apr 26, 2012, 4:44 pm

    @Paul – You realize that this same caucus process is in place in many many many many many other states? So this isn’t just poor little Idaho voters that have this caucus process foisted on them.

    Though, in fairness, I should point out that each county in Idaho established the guidelines and locations for their caucus. Don’t like the GOP caucus process this year? Then vote out the county chair and put power in a different set of hands.

  13. So, let me get this straight. The same people who complain about “activist” judges have purposefully removed their ability to vote for judges? Is that right? Or has it always been this way?

    EDITOR NOTE–Told you it was confusing! EVERYONE gets to vote for the judges. If you are a “non affiliated voter” you get to vote ONLY for judges. The vote for judges is retention for those in office, not appointment of new judges.

  14. Dave/Editor – how in the heck is that confusing? Everybody has always been able to vote for judges regardless of whether you vote the Dem primary or the Rep primary. The only thing different this year is you have to declare.

    It’s not confusing, it may be irritating, but if you’re confused by that, and are unable to spend a second asking the question and getting an answer, then please, do your country, your state and your county a favor – stay home.

    EDITOR NOTE–Dave and editor are NOT on e in the same. Dave the reader appeared to think non affiliated voters were the only ones to vote for judges or that Dems and Repubs couldn’t vote for judges. I thought I gave a decent explanation.

  15. Jason Robinson
    Apr 26, 2012, 10:23 pm

    I spent 3 hrs ushering in clueless and angry people at the Ada County caucus, so I am (sadly) all too familiar with some of the uninformed voters we have in this county.

    But after the drunk rich guy threatening me (and threatening his own vertical orientation) there really were a lot of friendly people glad to be apart of something so new and interesting that were just plain misinformed by the media or by well intentioned by equally as clueless friends.

    The GOP could have na lot better with the combination of a transition to a closed Primary PLUS moving to a caucus from a primary.

    The combination of those two changes is what really threw the average GOP voter for a loop.

  16. Thank you again Guardian! This time you focused my attention to revisit what I had generally written off as just one more ho-hum primary election.

    While verifying our most recent polling place (Yes, it has been moved again. . .) we happened to view the sample ballots. It appears to us that the Melba school board has once again acted with its consistent, pre-established, conniving, efficiency for no information, or slanted misinformation, to use the BACK of the PRIMARY ballot for a Supplemental Levy.

    We went so far as to drive to a couple of previous polling places the day when all of the other local Districts were holding their Bond and Supplemental elections. We were assured at that time that Melba was not having one. No one mentioned that, like a parasitic rider attached to a Congressional bill, they would be running one under most folk’s radar on the back side of a Primary Election ballot.

    I know that our rulers don’t count it as such but I view every increase in all forms of taxes, and even the recent, but unheralded 25 to 30 increase in Ada trash fees as significant inflation.

  17. Does it say if they are a RINO? Why won’t the party out these people?

  18. Guardian,
    I haven’t read through the rest of the comments to see if this information got corrected, but your note to Boise Cynic is wrong:

    You said: “EDITOR NOTE–You declare at the polls and you get the appropriate ballot. No way to register one way and vote another in the primary. If you are not affiliated, you get to vote only to retain three judges.”

    Here’s the real story: You do declare at the polls, but your party affiliation does NOT dictate the ballot you can receive. The Democrats haven’t closed their primary so ANYONE (even affiliated R’s) can choose to vote a Democrat ballot. On the flip side, since the Republicans have closed their primary, only affiliated R’s get an invite to that party…

    If you have previously registered and declared your party as “unaffiliated,” you can choose which ballot you would like to vote at the polls.

    Your affiliation, and the party ballot you receive, however, is public record for the world to see (and if you’re a news reporter, judge, or other honcho, likely for Wayne Hoffman to publish)

    That was some smooth politikin’ on the part of lawmakers who forced the closed primary.

    I work as a Chief Judge for the elections, and if you tally the salaries of each chief judge, plus the 7-8 pollworkers we’ll need to run this madhouse, times 145 precincts…the price tag tops $150,000 for just Ada County to hire enough people to work this over-glorified caucus.

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