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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Denney appears to advocate controversial changes in Idaho elections, then backs off

Lawerence Denney, the Republican candidate for Idaho secretary of state, this week backed off from statements he’d made in suggesting he’d do away with Idaho’s primary election. “I think you misunderstood what I said,” Denney told reporters during a live debate on Idaho Public TV against his opponent, state Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise. “Certainly I do believe that a primary election is not necessarily an election at all, it’s a nomination process, and it is a party nomination process, and I think the parties deserve to choose their own candidates.”

A day earlier, in a debate at the City Club of Boise, Denney said, “I think it’s important that Republicans nominate Republican candidates and that Democrats nominate Democrat candidates, and I think that there could be a process that’s a lot better than what we’re doing now.” But at the public TV debate, he said, “We have a long tradition of having the primary and having the ballot. What I am concerned about is having the taxpayers of the state of Idaho actually paying for a party nomination process.”

Woodings said, “I support primary elections. I believe that if they’re open and available to all the voters of Idaho to choose which primary they would like to vote in, that that’s absolutely something that we should be administering as a state.”

It wasn’t the first time Denney has taken what appears to be a controversial position during the campaign, and then stepped back from it. He appeared to be calling for requiring voters to be fingerprinted at the polls before they could vote, then said that wasn’t what he meant. He was highly critical of same-day voter registration at the polls – something Idaho and just seven other states offer – saying it “overwhelms” the system and can perpetuate fraud. But when asked if he’d do away with same-day registration, Denney said, “I am not advocating that at all.” You can read my full Sunday column here at

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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