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60% of Idaho Voters Denied Access to Public Elections

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In 2011, the Idaho Republican Party successfully argued that mandating open primaries violated a party’s First Amendment right of association in the case, Idaho Republican Party v. Ysura. After the court ruling, political parties were given the option to choose their own primary elections. The Democratic Party chose a semi-closed primary, which allows independent, decline-to-state, and third party voters to participate in the party’s primary elections if the voter changes their political affiliation on election day. Republicans chose a closed primary, which keeps participation exclusive to party members.


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However, despite this change to the electoral system in Idaho, voters continue to reject party labels in growing numbers. According to the latest data on voter registration, nearly 60 percent of registered voters in the state are unaffiliated. This means they are independent, decline-to-state, or are members of a third party not represented in the voter rolls. Regardless, these are voters who obviously feel abandoned by the major political parties and make up one of the largest groups of unaffiliated voters in the nation.

This also means, however, that nearly half a million voters are denied access to the pivotal primary process or must sacrifice their own First Amendment right of non-association to participate. as well as their constitutionally-protected right to have a meaningful vote at the ballot box. It is one more example where the major parties have argued that their rights trump the rights of voters, even when these primary elections are paid for by the very individuals they want to keep out of their primaries.

It is clear after the 2011 court ruling that election reform is needed in Idaho. Political parties should be allowed to hold their own primaries and decide who is able to participate. That is the right of a private organization — as the Supreme Court has confirmed political parties are. However, these primaries should not be paid for with public funds and if primaries are going to be public elections, every voter and every candidate — regardless of partisan affiliation — should have equal access to the ballot.

What reforms to the electoral process do you support?

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Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.

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The way I see it, primaries are designed to hold the power in the two parties, and eliminate third party competition.  Considering that the 2 parties both suck ass then we have no option but a suck ass country.  I believe there should be 1 primary for all voters and each voter votes for 5 candidates, the top 5 vote receivers make the final ballot.  This would eliminate the 2 party system which is what we need, in my mind. EVERYONE SHOULD VOTE IN 1 PRIMARY.

Is the 2 party system designed to make the vote in the voters mind about good vs evil?  It is not working as both sides seem rather evil, as do each side of their devout followers.

The other thing is that there are not enough senators and representatives.  We should have a wider range of views in DC.  535 representatives and senators for 313,000,000 people, being represented is like winning the lottery.


You are wrong.  If everyone is allowed to vote in a primary election, then it is not a primary, it is a general election.  Say a state has 70% party X members and 30% party Y members.  If all can vote in the Y members primary election, the 70% X members can vote for the worst Y person to make it easier for the X party to win.  Besides, the primary is for the Party to pick the person the party wants to run, not the general public to pick the Parties choice.  . 

Alex_G moderator

Wow, 60%. Its amazing how the two parties have become the defacto vessels of political participation, but they seldom actually represent the majority of voters


@Gibson4congress @IVNetwork  Agree with your first two suggestions, but what do you mean by "decodify recognized political parties"?