Posts tagged: open primary
The Idaho Democratic Party, at its fall state central committee meeting over the weekend in Sun Valley, voted to keep its primary election open to all voters, rather than closing it to anyone but registered party members as Idaho Republicans have opted to do. “Not a single person on our state central committee was interested in disenfranchising voters,” said Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant. “The Democratic Party welcomes everyone that has been thrown out of the Republican Party by the extremists trying to purify their ranks by closing their primary.”
House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said, “Our Democratic legislators represent everyone in their districts, not just the Democrats but Republicans and independents as well, so our election process should reflect that.” Saturday's central committee vote was 70-0. Idaho's next primary election is May 15, 2012.
Say you're an Idaho voter who wants to cast a ballot in next year's primary election for Sarah Palin for president, or Mike Huckabee, or Mitt Romney. In a state that's never had party registration, you could be in for a surprise at the polls, where voters will be required to become party members - or they might not get to vote in anything but nonpartisan judge races. “Being an independent, you don't like that too well,” said Mitch Campbell, a Twin Falls businessman who heads the American Independent Movement of Idaho. “I think there's just a lot of people that don't like it too well.”
Click here to read my Sunday story about Idaho's complicated new primary election system, a modified-closed primary that replaces the state's long-established open primary.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill has declared Idaho's open primary election system unconstitutional with respect to the state's Republican Party primary, which the party passed a rule saying it wants to close. “An important corollary of the right to freely associate is a right not to associate,” Winmill wrote in the decision, issued today. He found “clear evidence of crossover voting” in Idaho's primaries.
Though the states' expert testimony showed that closing the primary “will likely have the 'very real and immediate effect of … producing more ideologically extreme candidates,'” Winmill wrote, “At first blush, that would appear to be a strong argument for maintaining the status quo. But, choosing ideologically extreme candidates is precisely what a political party is entitled to do in asserting its right of association under the First Amendment.” You can read the judge's decision here.