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OPINION: Death of the primary

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| November 10, 2023 1:00 AM

The Democrats running Reclaim Idaho and their supporters are pushing a voter initiative which they are deceptively calling the “Open Primary Initiative” and falsely claiming that “Leaders are handpicked by political party committees” and that somehow Idahoans do not have the freedom to vote in all elections. These ridiculous claims are easily disproven with a tiny bit of rational thinking. 

Initiatives allow the citizens to pass laws directly without going through the legislative process. It starts with submitting the proposed initiative language to the SOS for review. Then the proponents must gather signatures from 6% of the voters in at least 18 counties. To collect the 62,895 signatures needed in the time allowed professional signature gathers are employed. During the last Reclaim initiative drive for Medicaid Expansion, Soros funded out of state organization spent nearly half a million dollars collecting signatures. Once the signatures are gathered the initiative is put on the next election’s ballot.

The signature gatherers are paid for each signature they collect so there is a strong incentive for them to say whatever it takes to get you to sign. Before you sign you need to read what you are signing. If you do you will find that the measure makes two major changes to election law. Let’s examine the first change. Here are the words as they appear in the short title of the initiative:

"First, this measure would abolish Idaho's party primaries" "The initiative creates a system where all candidates participate in a top-four primary and voters may vote on all candidates. The top four vote-earners for each office would advance to the general election."

So no more Republican or Democrat primary, just one big mess you get to sort out. But it gets better.

"Candidates could list any affiliation on the ballot, but would not represent political parties, and need not be associated with the party they name."

What?! You read it right. Candidates can say they are with one party when they are actually philosophically with a different party. That is the law they want you to approve. Democrats could put an “R” for Republican next to their name on the ballot even though they are affiliated with the Democrat party. They want you to approve a law that would make it legal to lie about party affiliation. Not a joke.

The winners of this “Jungle Primary” will be the top four vote getters. Those four will move on to the Ranked Choice General Election and you, the voter, will need to rank the candidates from best to worst if you want your vote to count. 

You know how easy it is for you to carefully consider the candidates in the general election and then select the one candidate you will support. With Ranked Choice Voting you will need to not only select the candidate you prefer but also your second choice…and your third choice. You will also need to vote for your last choice. Why? Because if you don’t, your ballot may be “exhausted” and your vote won’t count at all. and you will need to do this for each of around 20 races.

On Election Day you will need to carefully mark each of the 4 candidates in the 20+ races. That is more than 80 candidates you will need to know and rank from first choice through last. Once the polls close the fun begins.

All the ballots are scanned into a big computer running very expensive software and the computer counts everybody’s first choice. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote then the candidate with the least amount of first choice votes gets eliminated and on those ballots where he was eliminated then the second place choice is elevated to first place. If the second choice isn’t marked then that ballot is “exhausted” and is no longer considered. The tally is done again. If the first choice still hasn’t received more than 50% then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the next choice on those ballots that aren’t exhausted is elevated. 

The winner is the one who finally gets more than 50% of the votes that are left, not of those that voted because by the final round many of the ballots are “exhausted” so the voters who cast those ballots have no say in the final results. It is as if they never voted at all. Confused? Join the club.   

Another “benefit” of Ranked Choice Voting is that it is impossible to hand count and almost impossible to audit so if you suspect a problem in the vote tally, good luck proving it. 

Finally, Idaho does not currently have a voting system that is able to accommodate Ranked Choice Voting, so we would need to buy tens of millions of dollars in new computers and training.

All this just so progressive Democrats can get into office and spend even more of your tax dollars on their woke agenda. Don’t turn Idaho into California. If approached with the “Open Primaries” initiative petition, decline to sign. Just say no to Jungle Primaries and Rigged Choice Voting.

It’s just common sense.

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Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.