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October 14, 2010


Steve Rankin

It's worth noting that in 1986, the US Supreme Court empowered political parties to invite independents to vote in their primaries (Tashjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut).

If the state-mandated open primary is ultimately ruled unconstitutional-- as I believe it will be-- each party will also be able to invite members of opposing parties to vote in its primaries-- which the Idaho Republicans obviously won't do (the state has the authority to prohibit parties from inviting opposing party members, however).

Utah, for example, registers voters by party. The Republicans there invite independents to vote in their primaries, whereas the Democrats invite ALL registered voters to participate in their primaries.

Jim Riley

The solution is to permit each party to provide a list to election officials of which voters either (1) may; or (2) may not vote in the party's primary. The primary ballot would continue to list all candidates, and a voter would continue to select his party in secret.

While a party may permit voters to vote in their primary; it does not have the right to compel them to vote in its primary any more than it can compel them to vote for party candidates in the general election.

A voter who was not permitted to vote in a particular primary would simply have that option disabled on the ballot. So imagine that the Republicans provide a list of voters who may vote in their primary; the Democrats provide a list of voters who may not vote in the Democratic primary; and other parties don't care. If a voter was not on the Republican list, that option disabled on their ballot. A voter who was on the Democratic list would have that option disabled on their ballot.

In addition, the ballot would have a non-affiliated section which would contain the names of all candidates. Any voter could pick this section rather than voting in a party primary.

A candidate who received the most votes in the non-affiliated section, or received a reasonable share of the total vote (10%?) would qualify for the general election, regardless whether they won the nomination of their party. Candidates who only qualified on this basis would not have their party affiliation appear on the general election ballot. There might also be a minimum threshold for any candidate to qualify, perhaps 1%.

When a party is preparing its list of voters, it may not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, age, or failure to pay a fee, as these would violate the 15th, 19th, 26th, and 24th amendments.

The State of Idaho should also ensure that the party electorate is ultimately in control of the party, particularly with respect to constitutional matters of the party. To that end only the state party convention may propose rules changes, and these would not take effect until ratified by the party electorate.

Dennis Mansfield

Tom, That's exactly the point! Well done.

The Primary election is NOT a public election. It is a Party election. Each Party determines how it will select its nominees....election or caucus. (I'd argue that the caucus is even MORE selective than a primary election).

With recent Supreme Court decisions on Corporations being given rights as people are given rights, the decision NOW before Judge Winmill in this case is whether this Party, or any political party HAS the right of self determination (hence, selecting a method that grants "members" rights and privileges.)

Stuart, your presupposition is incorrect. No one is deprived of an election. The election happens in November. Anyone can run as an independent, anyone can vote as an independent. The ability to vote in a Primary is directly connected to membership in that party.

No membership? No party affiliation.

No party affiliation? No opportunity to vote in the Primary.

At play here, is the corporate status/rights of a political party and whether IT is in charge of its candidates OR whether those elected party candidates/representatives are in charge of the Party.

It's not a "chicken and the egg thing" as some would make us believe.

The only reason we have Republican/Democratic candidates is because the Party first existed.


Stuart Davis

Dennis, this is one of those issues we get to disagree on and then shake hands and have a 3 X 3 animal style. I guess I have this view that no one should be denied the chance to vote for a candidate, regardless of the party. Closed primaries disenfranchise at least 30% of the voter pool. You ran a hell of a campaign in 2000 against Butch, and you got 27% of the vote. How can you make a case that people crossed over and affected your race? Can you really make an argument that you would have gotten enough of Butch's 20% plurality to make a difference? As a very moderate Republican, I believe that closed primaries will kill the Republican Party.

Tom von Alten

I don't know what all went on in the trial, but reading your posts about it makes it sound like you see it as the entrenched GOP versus the upstarts (which indeed it may be).

This is the same sort of persistent frustration that comes from being a Democrat in this state, but we don't even get our day in court most of the time.

If it's a public primary, the public has an interest in the rules. If a Party wants to make its own arrangements (as the Democrats have for their Presidential caucuses) and pay for them, it can, can't it?

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