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Eye On Boise

Hill: ‘It’s not a closed-primary bill, as some would call it’

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, presents closed-primary election legislation to the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning. (Betsy Russell)
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, presents closed-primary election legislation to the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning. (Betsy Russell)

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, is presenting the primary election bill, SB 1198, to the Senate State Affairs Committee. Under the recent federal court decision, he said, the state can't mandate which way a party must go as far as who it allows to vote in its primaries. "We have a major role, but it's not just up to us," he said. So the bill sets out options for parties. "It's not a closed-primary bill, as some would call it," Hill told the committee. "I call it more of a constitutional primary bill, as required by Judge Winmill."

Under the bill, by 180 days before each primary election, each party would choose one of three options: The default option, which would let only its registered party members vote; Option B, which would let registered party members plus unaffiliated voters participate; or Option C, which would let all those plus members of other parties - which the party could specify - participate as well.

"It's incumbent on us, the Legislature, to structure the primary election process without mandating the proocess by which the parties choose their candidates," Hill said.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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