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Eye On Boise

‘Poke independent voters in the eye’

Gary Allen, attorney for a group of independent Idaho voters, testifies against the new primary election bill in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning. (Betsy Russell)
Gary Allen, attorney for a group of independent Idaho voters, testifies against the new primary election bill in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning. (Betsy Russell)

Gary Allen, attorney for a group of independent voters, told the Senate State Affairs Committee, "I'm here on my 50th birthday, and I can't think of any better way to spend it than talking about democracy." He said he and his clients disagree with the federal court ruling overturning Idaho's current system, and are appealing it. Independents don't want to publicly declare affiliation with one party or another, he said. "In our view, this is an unnecessary intrusion on voters' privacy," Allen said. "Frankly, our clients do not want to do this, and we've seen no evidence that other independents in Idaho want to do this either. At a time when Republican Party identification in Idaho is falling like a stone ... I would not think that the Republican Party would want to poke independent voters in the eye."

Allen said he estimates switching to the new party-registration system will cost the state "well in excess of $2 million," between state and county expenses. "I think you owe it to the people of Idaho to get to the bottom of this and be up-front about the cost of this change," he said. "Frankly, we see all of these costs as simply welfare for politicians." Allen said the Republican Party could hold a convention or caucus to choose its candidates instead. "If this were done, the Republican Party could prepare its own member list without the need to expend taxpayer dollars to pay for the party's private preference."



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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