Thursday, October 22, 2020

Research: Beware of ghosts in today’s primary

| March 10, 2020 1:00 AM

Please get up and go vote. Your next president is calling.

Not registered? Just take official photo ID and proof of residence (car registration, recent bank or mortgage statement, utility bill, or rent agreement) with you to vote. It’s quick and easy.

Think the primary’s not for you, because you’re an independent voter? If you live in Kellogg, you also have a school levy to vote on today. Everybody else should think twice anyway.

Unaffiliated voters can vote in either primary on election day. If desired, the same voter can change affiliation later.

This is no case of the pot calling out the kettle. As an independent who’s voted both sides of the fence (and once from a different ball field) I’ve taken both approaches — voting and not voting in primaries. In Idaho, most races are effectively decided in primaries, because so few minority party candidates win elections, although it still happens.

Today, we consider only presidential choices. Do you want one?

Yes, the president is running again, which seems a no-brainer for the Republican side. While technically it’s not automatic, presidents do tend to get the nomination.

But not always. Twice — Truman in 1952 and Johnson in 1968 — presidents dropped out after poor showings in key state primaries. Yes, there are Republicans running against President Trump in the primary. One guy, perennial candidate and businessman Roque de la Fuente, is even on both ballots.

The bigger impact will come from the Democratic primary, with 17 candidates on county ballots. But here’s something important to remember: It’s mostly made up of ghosts.

Fourteen are no longer running.

Only three of the 17 appearing on today’s Democrat ballot are active candidates. So a vote for any of the others is wasted.

These three are still running for president, in alphabetical order:

Joe Biden, Tulsi Gabbard, and Bernie Sanders. Abundant candidate information online includes recent summaries of these three by major news outlets.

So why are the dropout names still there? Because there are strict legal rules about ballot changes, some who withdrew haven’t done all the paperwork, and official processes aren’t fast enough to keep up before election day. Hopefully counties and legislatures nationwide can figure out how to best change that.

Why ostensibly align yourself with one side by voting in a presidential primary, if you’re an independent? One, to have a more meaningful choice in November. Two, to participate in a process that has a massive impact on every American and the laws we live under.

Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find your polling place just enter your address at or if you’re outside Kootenai, clicking “voting” at


Sholeh Patrick, J.D. is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at