The Idaho Republican Party has filed suit in federal court against GOP Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, challenging the state’s current open primary election system. The complaint, filed late Friday, asks the court for an injunction against the state and Ysursa, “compelling implementation of a closed party primary in accordance with party rules, for all primary elections conducted after 2008.” It doesn’t try to close this spring’s primary election, which is coming up on May 27th.
“In bringing this action the Idaho Republican Party is forced to concede that this Court cannot provide it any meaningful remedy in respect to the conduct of the May 2008 Idaho Republican Primary, which is scheduled to occur on Tuesday May 27, 2008, a little more than six weeks away at the time of this filing,” the lawsuit says. Instead, it wants directives from the court for the 2009 Legislature to change the law to implement a closed primary system in 2010, or a court order to force Ysursa to do so.
Party Executive Director Sid Smith said in a news release, “According to the resolution approved by the party Central Committee in January of this year, the party was required to file suit within 10 days of adjournment of the legislature, thereby making this suit unavoidable.” Rules adopted by the party back prohibiting anyone except registered Republicans from voting in Republican primary elections. Idaho currently has open primaries; nearly a third of the state’s residents say they’re independents.
“The Closed Republican Party Primary Rule was adopted as a direct response to the infiltration of non-Republicans into the selection process for Idaho Republican Party candidates,” the lawsuit states. “Proponents of the Rule perceived that the cross-over of non-Republicans voting for persons who would represent the Idaho Republican Party in a general election posed a direct and immediate threat to the integrity of the Party. … Permitting non-Republicans to select the Republican candidate weakens, dilutes and obstructs that process by forcing the Idaho Republican Party to associate with nonparty members, and forcing its candidates to modify their political message, ideology and positions on public policy issues in order to persuade non-Party members to vote for them in the primary election.”
Click below to read the full Idaho GOP news release.