Idaho Bill for Party Registration

On March 28, the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee introduced SB 1198. Currently, Idaho voter registration forms do not ask voters to choose a party. The bill provides that in the future, voter registration forms will include a place for voters to choose a party, or to choose “unaffiliated” status. The bill also says that sign-in sheets at the May 2012 primary will include a party membership checkbox. Starting in 2012, each qualified party would determine for itself whether or not to let independent voters vote in its primary.

Voters who don’t fill out a new voter registration form in the next two years, and who don’t vote in the 2012 primary, would automatically become independent voters. Voters who choose a Republican ballot in the May 2012 primary would be automatically listed as Republicans, and the same is true for the Democratic, Constitution, and Libertarian Parties. The bill does not provide for a blank line on the voter registration form for anyone to write-in the name of an unqualified party. That aspect of the bill may be unconstitutional; courts in five states have said that voters must be allowed to register into active unqualified parties. Also, the failure of the bill to provide for a blank line for a voter to write-in the name of a newly-qualifying party would mean that if a new party qualifies in Idaho, all the voter registration forms would need to be immediately reprinted.

If the bill passes, it is not out of the question that Idaho voters who are not happy with this system will create a new party, perhaps named the Moderate Party. Rhode Island already has a ballot-qualified party named the Moderate Party, and Alaska once had a ballot-qualified Republican Moderate Party.


Idaho Bill for Party Registration — 12 Comments

  1. It’s quite evident that the state of Idaho is not going to appeal the US district judge’s March 2 ruling to the 9th circuit (Idaho Republican Party v. Ysursa). This decision struck down Idaho’s state-mandated open primaries.

    This is good news for the Republicans, but I’m somewhat disappointed, as this case has the potential to prompt a landmark ruling from the US Supreme Court.

    We’ll have to keep an eye on the South Carolina Republicans’ similar lawsuit, as well as the Tennessee Republicans’ efforts to stop non-Republicans from voting in GOP primaries.

  2. The proposed law makes it harder for absentee voters, including overseas and military voters to participate in the election process, since there is now a two stage process to get a ballot. Some precincts in Idaho are mail-only precincts, and voters in those precincts are denied equal protection because of this two-stage process.

    Idaho could let political parties choose who may vote in their primaries by continuing the pick-a-party primary and disabling the selection of a party on the ballot if that party does not want to have that voter participate.

    And if Idaho really wanted to let a party choose who may vote in its primary, it could simply let such a party provide a list of those voters prior to each election.

    As the law is written, a voter can register as a Republican and vote in the Republican primary whenever Rod Beck is on the ballot, and choose the Democratic or other party if he is not.

    But if the Republicans could provide a list, then Rod Beck could go through the list and strike the names of voters who he thinks might vote for his primary opponent. And this procedure could be in place for the 2012 primary, if the Republicans wanted to implement it.

    Decisions of such a fundamental nature as to who constitutes the electorate of a political party should not be made by an executive or chairman of the party, and Idaho has no authority to confer such powers on the chairman. The party electorate is the entity that the State of Idaho recognizes, not the party bosses. Idaho should let the party bosses propose a new rule, and let the voters vote on it in the next primary.

  3. If a voter wants to politically associate with a group or groups that do not have a primary, why does the State of Idaho have to act as an intermediary?

  4. Gee – again and again.

    PUBLIC electors-voters doing PUBLIC nominations of PUBLIC candidates for PUBLIC offices — with a later PUBLIC general election — ALL subject totally to PUBLIC laws — regardless of ALL MORON SCOTUS opinions to the contrary.

    i.e. ALL electors doing the nominations — top 2 primary States
    or SOME fraction of the electors doing the nominations — with or without other fractions – partisan or independent.

    PUBLIC nomination stuff is TOTALLY separate from 1st Amdt INTERNAL clubby stuff in each party hack gang.
    See the 1989 Eu 1989 SCOTUS case — one of the few SCOTUS election law opinions making some sense.

    How about a zillion page book for the armies of party hacks in State legislature — about UN-constitutional election laws — to be called — Election Law for MORON Dummies in the States ???

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  6. #3: “Decisions of such a fundamental nature as to who constitutes the electorate of a political party should not be made by an executive or chairman of the party…”

    From what I’ve read, the central committee– the governing body– of each party will determine who is eligible to vote in that party’s primaries.

    The Democrats say that they will keep their primaries open to all voters.

  7. #3 The central committee is the equivalent to the governor and other executive officers of a State. Does the governor of Mississippi decide who may vote?

    Not even the legislature, which is the equivalent of the party convention, can do that. You would have to have a constitutional amendment approved by the People, who are the equivalent to the party electorate.

  8. #9 Rod Beck is a former legislator, who tried to return the legislature and was defeated in three consecutive Republican primaries. The Governor of Idaho, Butch Otter, has said that the lawsuit would not have been filed if Beck could win an election.

    Beck was later chairman of the Idaho Republican Party when the case was first filed, and his losses in three consecutive Republican primaries was cited as evidence of cross-over voting by Democrats (eg if Beck got 45% of the vote, it would be because 85% of the vote was by true Republicans who preferred Beck vs. 40% for the other Republican candidate. But it was 15% of the electorate who was not Republican that caused Beck to lose).

    But under the system proposed in Idaho, there would be no reason for a Democrat not to say that they were a “Republican”.

    If they say they are “Republican” they can vote for their county commissioners and legislators. If they say they are “Democratic” they will have no say.

    If they say they are “Republican” they will be able to vote in primaries to determine the Republican candidate for Congress, and still be able to vote in the general election for the Democratic candidate.

    It is unlikely anyone in Idaho would lose their job because they said they were a “Republican”.

    So the only way to prevent this is for Rod Beck to determine who may vote in Republican primaries. It is not sufficient to simply let voters make a public declaration, because they don’t have to demonstrate whether their political beliefs are aligned with Beck to a sufficient degree that he might be elected.

  9. Jim, are you from Idaho? Are you suggesting that Rod Beck is in control of the Idaho GOP? You seem to imply that the Idaho GOP would not have filed a suit or supported a closed primary except for Beck. Sounds a bit myopic to me!

    I looked up the Idaho Secretary of State election results and found that Beck has won more races than he has lost. In fact, he is listed as actually being a former Majority Leader in the Idaho Senate. He did lose several close primary elections in the early 2002, 2004 and 2006 but he has won more than he lost. For instance he is the only person to beat current Senator John Andreason in a Primary. And he won all those races in Idaho with an open primary.

    Just seems like you have some sort of ax to grind against Beck. What is it?

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