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Idaho bill to clamp down on special House elections advances

UPDATED: Mon., March 13, 2017, 6:12 p.m.

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, arrives at Trump Tower, in New York, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (Richard Drew / AP)
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, arrives at Trump Tower, in New York, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (Richard Drew / AP)

BOISE – Legislation to change Idaho’s procedure for special elections when an Idaho member of Congress leaves office mid-term cleared a Senate panel on Monday, and headed to the full Senate.

No such election has ever been held in Idaho history, but Idaho’s process for a special election for Congress drew attention in December when 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador was interviewed by then-president-elect Trump for a possible position as U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The law says the governor would declare an election date by proclamation, and anyone who wanted to would run, regardless of party. That opened the hypothetical possibility of a whole array of candidates from various parties running together for an open House seat from Idaho.

Idaho’s law governing that dates back to 1899, Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, told the Senate panel.

“It’s time for an update,” he said.

Under Loertscher’s bill, there would be both a primary election and a general election. When a vacancy occurs, the governor would have to pick one of the four existing Idaho election dates for the primary election, with the general election for the vacant seat following.

“That’s all it does,” Loertscher said. “We’ve run it by the Secretary of State’s office to make sure that we had all the dates correct and that all that stuff fits in with our existing elections law.”

Idaho’s four consolidated election dates are the second Tuesday in March; the third Tuesday in May; the last Tuesday in August; and the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

The proposal contains an emergency clause, making it effective immediately upon being signed into law.



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