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Conflict with state code puts snafu into process; fix pending legislative action

Political affiliation problem:

— Elections are still a few months off, but voters looking to declare political affiliations should do so early.

A conflict with the election calendar and Idaho State code will have legislators scrambling at the start of the legislative session to quickly plug a loophole that, as it stands, could potentially allow a person to change affiliations twice before the May primary elections.

Clarifying the election year

Confused on all the elections this year? Here’s what’s coming up

March 8:

• Closed primary presidential candidate elections

• School district levies

May 17:

• Primary election

So, if you want to vote, what do you need to know?

• Voting will be business as usual for those who have already registered to vote and have affiliated with a political party; otherwise,

• Register to vote and file an affiliation at the Idaho County Courthouse. Due to pending changes in the affiliation deadline, it is recommended voters register their affiliation prior to Feb. 12.

“The complication here is with the March presidential primary,” explained Idaho County Clerk Kathy Ackerman, and “a snafu in Idaho code.”

Voters with parties fielding presidential candidates will determine their picks in the March 8 election. Both the Republican and Constitution parties – that have presidential candidates this season — have closed primaries, meaning you have to be affiliated with the party to vote in its election.

The Democrat Party will select their presidential candidate during its caucus, March 22.

“How the statutes read currently, the last day to change affiliation is March 11, which is after the presidential primary election,” Ackerman said.

So technically, a voter, for example, could affiliate as Republican or Constitution party and vote March 8, and two days later change affiliations.

“So obviously, this is a problem for maintaining the pure vote closed primary parties are seeking to get through their presidential primary,” she said.

According to Ackerman, the Idaho Legislature will be addressing this directly with the start of the session this month, and the tentative proposal will be to change the affiliation registration deadline to the second Friday in February; this year it would be Feb. 12.

If this were approved, the new affiliation deadline would go into effect immediately. Meanwhile, Ackerman’s office is keeping with the March 11 deadline; however, the advice for voters is to file their affiliation early with the expectation this date will be moved up a month.

For information, call the Idaho County Election’s Office, 983-2751.


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