Article 1, Section 19 of the Idaho Constitution boldly states: “No authority, civil or military, shall at any time impede or impede the free and lawful exercise of the right to vote.” Suffrage is one of the most important tools by which we, the citizens, must shape the future of our state for ourselves and our children. All parents want a better life for their children, but that will not happen if we sit back on election day.
Today, about 83% of Idaho eligible voters do not participate in our primary election. In a one-party state like Idaho, most elected government officials — the governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, members of the legislature, and many others — are elected at Republican primaries. The Republican primaries on May 17 are a place where people should vote if they hope to influence the future of Idaho.
Why then do so few Idaho residents vote in Republican primaries, leaving the choice of important government officials to a relatively small number of party loyalists, including a solid base of political extremists? Is it ignorance that almost every Idaho citizen of voting age can register and vote in the Republican primaries through the closing of polls on May 17?
Seriously! Every registered voter, except those now registered in another party, and criminals whose rights have not been restored, can legally participate in the Republican primaries. We think of those who did not choose the party as independent, but the state calls them “non-affiliated” voters. Sections 34-411A of the Idaho Code state that a non-affiliated voter may choose to belong to a political party on election day by “declaring such affiliation to a political party to a polling officer”. That is, independent individuals can vote in the Republican primaries on election day. Don’t let anyone, even an election campaign official, say otherwise.
Unregistered individuals can register to participate in Republican primaries if they arrive at a polling station that they can find from their district clerk or go online at voteidaho.gov. They must provide proof of residence, such as a driver’s license.
These primary elections may well decide the future course of the state of gems for many years to come. There are essentially two lists of candidates: one is made up of intelligent, pragmatic community members committed to solving problems by government, and the other is absorbed by conspiracy theories, fictional problems, and confrontational tactics.
The list of solutions includes Governor Little, Speaker Bedke, Attorney General Wasden, Phil McGrain, two smart candidates for school principals and support for responsible candidates for the legislature.
The subversive list includes Janice McGitchin, Priscilla Giddings, Raoul Labrador, Dorothy Moon, Branden Durst and a number of extremist candidates for the legislature, who struggled to make voting harder, offered to send librarians to jail, tried to commit and made false accusations against public education and used every opportunity to turn Idaho residents against each other.
This is a serious choice that calls on all eligible voters to take part. Republican primary elections are more important for the fate of this state than this year’s elections in November. We are really in Benjamin Franklin’s moment in Idaho. When this esteemed gentleman left the Independence Hall in 1787, after completing work on the U.S. Constitution, he was asked if we had a republic or a monarchy. He replied: “Republic, if you can save it.” We can keep our smart government solving problems only if everyone exercises their right to vote on May 17th.
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