As of Tuesday, February 20, 2018
When voting for a county commissioner, should you be limited to casting a ballot within your own district? This is an amendment to state law that is being proposed to go before the Idaho Legislature.
One that we say is unwarranted.
Introduced on Feb. 13, H574 would change election guidelines so only voters who live in the commission district up for election would be permitted to vote in that race. Currently, county residents can vote in all commission races, regardless of the district they live in.
The current situation works. Why change?
Such segregation is valid where you have population groups that share a common interest, such as a municipality. Kooskia voters, for example, are best to decide their city’s business and who they want to represent them on the council. Allowing the county as a whole to have a vote in those decisions is obviously wrong as residents elsewhere don’t share and don’t care for Kooskia issues the same, nor are they impacted by the decisions made within that municipality’s jurisdiction.
Isn’t a county commission district similar?
Were Idaho a more populated state, perhaps it would be, as a large county could encompass diverse populations with unique self-interests. Those situations are nationwide where one county can contain a large urban center, bordered with suburban sections with different demographic characteristics (industry, recreation, retirement) and surrounded by rural communities both incorporated and unincorporated. Definitely, in such a county, we’d want to be in charge of who represents – who understands and has commonality with — our district’s interests … and not those city slickers over there who don’t know a stallion from a mare.
But in Idaho? Just speaking for the Gem State’s biggest county geographically, none of our three districts is so diverse where such voter segregation is warranted. We’re all pretty much in the same boat on how we’re impacted by the commission’s decisions, so it’s only fair we get a say in all who sit on the board.
Our call is H574 isn’t warranted, for right now. As populations grow and change, then definitely let’s revisit that, and in future proposals, we’d suggest allowing counties to decide that voting segregation for themselves, rather than a one-size-fits-all.