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OPINION: Caucus or Primary

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| February 2, 2024 1:00 AM

Over the last few weeks several individuals have crawled out of the shadows to “explain” the upcoming Idaho presidential caucus. Unfortunately these “explanations” are not based on any firsthand information and are full of misinformation, false claims and outright lies. Why would they falsely paint a doom and gloom picture? Who knows, but they aren’t being honest with you.

The facts about the presidential caucus are clear, well documented and easily verified. Full information about the caucus is available at www.IdahoRepublicanCaucus.com. You are encouraged to explore this resource yourself.

There are 210 caucus locations in Idaho. The smallest is in Owyhee County and serves a single precinct with 18 Republicans. The largest is in Meridian and serves 20 precincts with 18,012 Republican voters. Obviously your experience at the caucus will vary greatly depending on where you live. Wisely, the Idaho Republican Party has empowered the local party officials with the latitude to adapt to best serve their location and their voters. 

Some things will be common to all caucus locations because they are specified in the rules.

• All caucus locations will have a caucus captain who is responsible for the caucus at that location. 

• All caucus voters must be qualified electors that affiliated with the Republican Party before Jan. 1 of this year.

• All caucus voters must present valid government issued photo ID and sign a poll book before they are issued a ballot.

• Mail in voting, the kind of voting most susceptible to fraud, is not allowed.

• Only official paper ballots will be used. Ballots have anti-counterfeiting features.

• All caucus locations will open simultaneously, Saturday, March 2, 11 a.m. Pacific time and noon Mountain time, and voter check-in will remain open for at least 90 minutes minimum. Saturday at lunchtime was chosen so the maximum number of working Idahoans would not have to take time off work to participate.

• Caucus programs (invocation, Pledge, welcoming remarks, candidate presentations, etc.) are scheduled to begin at noon Pacific time and 1 p.m. Mountain time, however the caucus captains can modify the program start time, but not the door opening time, to best suit the needs of the voters.

• Balloting will continue until all checked-in voters have cast their ballots. 

• Ballot counting will be done on site immediately after balloting. Ballots will be counted by two tabulators who were approved by the assembly and witnessed by campaign designated witnesses and any voter who wishes to observe.

• All ballots will be counted at least twice; the results will be announced to the assembly and then reported to IDGOP headquarters by the caucus captain and separately by the caucus coordinator. 

• All marked, unused and spoiled ballots will be preserved and securely returned, along with the poll books, to IDGOP headquarters for post-election canvassing. 

• Qualified Republican voters will receive a postcard to their mailing address. The postcard will have their precinct name and caucus location. The postcard is not a “Golden Ticket” and is not required to participate but it is recommended you bring it with you so you know your precinct’s name. Fun Fact: 99.3% of qualified Republican voters have Idaho mailing addresses. 

Without the caucus there would be no presidential nominating process in Idaho. During the last legislative session a bill, intended to move the presidential primary from March to May, was proposed by the secretary of state, passed by the legislature and was signed by the governor. Unbelievable as it sounds, after the House had voted on the bill, it was discovered that the poorly drafted bill actually eliminated the presidential primary altogether. This was known before the Senate voted, but Senate Pro Tem Winder pushed the bill through and the governor signed it. 

Claims that IDGOP Chairwoman Dorothy Moon somehow engineered this fiasco are absurd. If Madam Chairman had that power she would have stopped the bill before it was considered. The IDGOP passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the faulty bill and amended party rules so if it was repealed we would use the March primary instead of the March caucus. Alas, it was not repealed.

Even if the bill did what was intended and moved the presidential primary to May, it would have been useless. The purpose of the presidential primary, or caucus, is to decide which candidate’s slate of delegates will go to the Republican National Convention in mid-July. National Republican Party rules require that the state submit its list of confirmed delegates 45 days before the convention, which is May 31. The state run primary this year is on May 21 and Idaho code requires 10 days to canvass the results, which also brings us to May 31, leaving exactly zero days for the IDGOP to hold its convention to approve the delegates. If a state is late in submitting the approved list they will lose half or possibly all their delegates. Unacceptable! Those who say a May presidential primary would be “fine” are either ignorant of the rules or lying. 

Soon after the legislature eliminated the presidential primary, Madam Chair Moon called an emergency meeting of the executive committee to discuss options. At that meeting it was decided that options to enfranchise Idaho Republican voters would be developed and presented at the upcoming Summer Meeting.

At the Summer Meeting, the 225-member State Central Committee decided that unless the Idaho Legislature acted before Oct. 1 to restore the March presidential primary then the Republican Party would hold a presidential caucus. Because the Oct. 1 deadline to submit Idaho’s presidential delegate selection plans to the Republican National Committee was before the Winter SCC meeting, the SCC gave temporary power to the 16 member Rules Committee to amend the caucus rules as needed to comply with RNC rules and to ensure a workable caucus plan. Any changes were subject to modification or reversal at the SCC at the next meeting.  

Over a thousand Republican Party members and volunteers are working to make the Idaho presidential caucus a success. Idaho will be fifth in the nation to decide whose delegates we will send to the Republican National Convention.

Meanwhile, critics and naysayers, some even claiming to be Republicans, haven’t lifted a finger to help. Their actions tell you they are not working to help you and are not true Republicans. Don’t let them gaslight you. You are smarter than that. 

It’s just Common Sense.

• • •

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