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News >  Idaho

Idaho election chief selects arguments for initiatives

UPDATED: Tue., July 24, 2018

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (Betsy Z. Russell / Idaho Press)
Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (Betsy Z. Russell / Idaho Press)
By Kimberlee Kruesi Associated Press

BOISE – The Idaho secretary of state has selected who will write arguments for and against two ballot initiatives for the state’s voter guide.

The election office had invited both sides in the measures to submit arguments for review by last week.

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney picked which groups to use on Monday.

The guide will be sent to voters before the November election, when Idahoans will consider an initiative that would legalize lucrative betting machines known as instant racing and a measure to expand Medicaid eligibility to as many as 62,000 people without medical coverage.

The authors of the measures, Idahoans for Healthcare and Save Idaho Horse Racing, were selected to argue in favor of the initiatives.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a libertarian-leaning think tank, was automatically chosen because it was the only group to submit an argument opposing the Medicaid expansion initiative.

Denney selected the group Stop Predatory Gambling Idaho to argue against the racing imitative. He chose it over the North Idaho Voter Project – a political action committee connected to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, which has been one of the most vocal and active opponents of the instant racing initiative.

“The two groups submitted very similar arguments, but Secretary Denney felt like Stop Predatory Gambling Idaho had a broader reach,” said Kristie Winslow of the secretary of state’s office.

The arguments have not yet been made public because the organizations are being given time to respond to their counterparts.

The voter guide is expected to be posted by early August.

However, the Idaho Freedom Foundation has posted its roughly 500-word argument on its website, warning that expanding Medicaid would take funds from education and other budget priorities.

“Medicaid expansion would add to the national debt, because of increased federal government support for the program,” the argument says. “After expansion, nearly half of Idaho’s budget would come directly from federal funds.”

Education groups in Idaho have countered that expanding Medicaid would not harm public school funding.

The secretary of state has no legal authority to fact-check the arguments used in the voter guide. The state does allow for a 250-word rebuttal from each side.

It costs about $250,000 to send the Idaho voter guide to residents and post office boxes in the state.

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