Ada County - Voting - 2021 (November)

A “vote here” sign outside Whittier Elementary in Boise on November 2, 2021.

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A rule that would have required any candidate seeking a statewide, legislative or county level position to first obtain the endorsement of Republican central committees in order to be placed on a primary election ballot was defeated unanimously during a party rules committee meeting on Friday.

The rule was passed by the Bonneville Republican Central Committee in November.

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna said that first step is an easy one to clear. Any central committee can pass a rule for the party’s consideration, and if it had passed the Rules Committee on Friday, it would have been voted on by the full Idaho Republican State Central Committee at day two of the party’s winter meeting on Saturday. Normally, Luna said, rules deal with the minute details of party elections, such as recordkeeping and processes. This rule in particular was an outlier that “touched a nerve.”

The potential candidates would have been put through multiple rounds of voting through the committees in their districts until two candidates remained. If either candidate received 60% of votes, they would receive a place on the ballot. If neither candidate received 60%, both would be placed on the ballot.

Luna said the 16-member rules committee debated passionately against the idea, and it matched what he heard from others who contacted him about the rule prior to the committee meeting.

“People made it clear that we (would be) disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Republicans and their ability to vote and choose who will be their nominees going into the general election, and that if there (are) concerns about candidates and how they get access to the ballot, that this is not the way to address it,” Luna said.

The change would have applied to any candidate seeking the following offices:

  • Governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, or state controller
  • U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives
  • County commissioner, clerk, auditor, sheriff, county treasurer, coroner or assessor

For state offices, including congressional seats, the candidate would have needed the endorsement of the full Republican State Central Committee, while legislative candidates would have needed approval from the Republican legislative district committee in which they reside. For county candidates, the county’s Republican central committee would have final say.

The proposal was submitted by Mark Fuller, Bonneville County Republican Central Committee chairman; Doyle Beck, State Committeeman; Lisa Keller, Legislative District 30 Chairwoman; Myleah Keller, Bonneville County State Youth Committee Person; Linn Hawkins, Bonneville County State Committeewoman; and Bryan Zollinger, Legislative District Committee 33 Chairman.

Beck told the Idaho State Journal in an email that the reason for the proposed rule change was to prevent Democrats from running in Republican races and to keep left-leaning voters from participating in the GOP primary.

“This unethical practice is now promoted by our faithful (Republicans in name only),” Beck said in his emailed interview responses to the newspaper.

Originally published Jan. 7 on IdahoCapitalSun.com.

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