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Personally, I think that closing the primaries will be a good thing, with much of the reasoning that you stated above. It will make people look at the Republican candidates and say; “wow, neither one of them represent what I hold dear”, then in turn, some of those people will be inclined to look to the other side of the aisle.

Democrats are the party of the people, the party who looks out for the worker, not just the shareholder. The party of “we”, not “me”; which has been successfully turned around by the stalwarts on the right. If Republicans hadn’t come up with the very successful “knee-jerk-single-issue-litmus-test” and emotional pandering on issues that don’t affect everyday Americans, then I think that Democrats would have a lock in just about every election. This would ultimately cause the Republicans to drift center and create a working democracy that looks out for Americans, and not politicians just looking to extend their stay.

Having two polar opposite parties that merely toss control back and forth every couple of elections just isn’t logical or effective manner to move America forward.

I think that when we close the primaries we are going to see the Idaho GOP move towards the center, if (note the “if”) they reject the extremist, ala the IVA and their ilk. The divide is coming both statewide and nationally, the religious right has been walked all over by the Republicans who used them for votes and now they have a checklist that they’ve been promised and they are going to want action. Action that they won’t get from the party leaders and rank & file; if this past legislative session taught us anything it’s that there is a divide in Idaho’s GOP.

John Gannon

I think this is a privacy issue. Does the government have a right to demand and know peoples political party affiliation as a condition to voting? Its up to people to voluntarily disclose that or not. I don't have a problem, but maybe others do because of for example job issues.

Or maybe some people just think it isn't anyones business.

Julie in Boise

Chris wrote:

Dems: The party of WE
GOP: The party of ME.

Now, that's good messaging!

John, I take your point about the privacy issue. But perhaps there is a middle ground: People who have good reason, job or othewise, to want to keep their affiliation private, could still register as independents.They'd give up their right to vote in the primary, but really, primaries should be for party members.

Perhaps there also could be some very strict safeguards on access to the party IDs. For example, the secretary of state would give lists of registered party members to the parties, but to no one else. Right now, the Dem voter data base is accessible only to party officials, candidates, and upper-level volunteers - and that's how it should be.

John McGimpsey

Julie -

One concern that's been raised to me a few times in the last couple days of door knocking is the issue of who's paying for the primary election.

Closing primaries, in some sense at least, makes them private to their declared members. Elections cost taxpayers a lot of money, and two people have commented to me that they aren't willing to pay for an election that they're disenfranchised from as independents - rather than closed primaries, they'd rather see the parties go back to selecting candidates at privately sponsored conventions or caucuses.

Same-day registration is another issue - could you register on primary day and vote on a partisan ballot? If so, what's different than now, except that you'd have to publicly declare which ballot you take (presumably one could freely re-register with a different, or no, party affiliation, right?)? If not, what constitutional justification is there for creating a separate class of voter based solely on registration date?

Of course, having any significant number of people change party registrations for a particular primary (as I saw encouraged previously in another state, and, in effect, in a number of Idaho Dem blogs this year) would screw up party databases even more than they are now...

Julie in Boise

Interesting comments, John. I am sure there are many Republicans who wish the 1st CD nominee had been chosen by caucus rather than a primary. I can see the point you raise about people feeling disenfranchised from closed primaries, and being upset that all taxpayers pay for the process.

As for same-day registration, maybe it could be allowed for the general election but not for primaries. I like same-day reg for some reasons, but there again: If it disappeared, would people be more likely to better think through their political choices, or would it keep more people away from voting altogether?

And another question: Is any of this an argument for or against voting by mail? Voting by mail is certainly more private and more convenient, and it's been working well in Oregon for years.

Julie in Boise

One more thought re: taxpayers paying for closed primaries. Perhaps this sentiment could be stemmed if Idaho eliminated extra election dates for school bonds etc and simply stuck to the May and November election dates and no others. This would save a lot of money, give independents a reason to vote, and probably boost turnout for things like school and library bond votes.

John McGimpsey

Dunno about Oregon - the pluses and minuses seem distinctly mixed. For instance:


To me, it seems like one should have to expend at least a bit of effort in order to vote. I wonder about fraud in vote-by-mail - how surprising would it be to find that every resident of a nursing home, say, voted exactly the same way? Not that it couldn't happen in Idaho via absentee ballot, but there would be at least the oddity of every resident filling out an absentee ballot request.

I'd prefer if all voters actually examined candidates and their positions, of course, but I don't know of any way I'd want to test them.

I'd support moving all elections to two days per year. The participation would certainly increase. The flip side is that more levies and bond issues would likely fail, given the supermajorities required.

The most compelling reason for state-supported closed primaries is that, given the reality of party politics, it's still in the best interest of the state that selection of party candidates be open and subject to sunshine requirements.

Again, with excluding same-day registrants from partisan primaries, my objection is mostly based on the legality/constitutionality of creating 2 classes of voters based solely on registration date. IANAL, but it seems a bit presumptuous to assume that a same-day registrant is any less informed than one who registers 30 days prior to the election.

As an aside: whether closed or open, partisan primaries can produce some bizarre (at least to me) choices - I've met at least three people in the last two weeks that identified themselves as leaning Democrat, but voted in the Republican primary solely to vote either for (or against) a particular Precinct Committeeman!


I just noticed that you're a submariner. Head over to my blog and check out what's going on in the sub-blogosphere.

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