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EDITORIAL: Citizen initiatives in jeopardy — again

| January 12, 2024 1:00 AM

Let’s fix Idaho’s broken primary system.

And while we’re at it, let’s reject, yet again, efforts to kill citizen-led initiatives.

Idahoans can go a long way on both fronts by joining the effort to open the state’s primary elections to all voters. Idaho’s 270,000 independent voters, many of whom are solid, conservative Americans, cannot participate in Republican primaries. 

As a result, extreme candidates favored by the extremists in power have a tremendous advantage in winning partisan elected offices. That doesn’t disenfranchise only the independents; it creates an unlevel playing field for Republicans who stand for traditional, rational conservative policies and principles.

One of those principles is the constitutionally protected provision for citizens to step in when they think those in power aren’t properly addressing an important issue — like the broken primary election system. 

Just last weekend, the extremist-controlled Idaho Republican Party adopted a resolution calling on the 2024 Legislature to attempt another kill shot on citizen-led initiatives. The resolution would require two-thirds of all Idaho voters to approve an initiative, rather than the simple majority now required.

The resolution continues the recent tradition of putting all power in a handful of legislators’ mitts because smaller groups are easier to control. Resolution supporters are terrified by the potential for citizens to wield a powerful tool to right legislative wrongs of both omission and commission. And nothing scares them more than an election system that empowers all voters, rather than a selected niche.

That’s why numerous groups statewide, including a coalition of respected former and current Republican officials, are ardently supporting Idaho’s Open Primary Initiative. 

On Thursday, Luke Mayville of Idahoans for Open Primaries provided The Press with this update:

• More than 54,000 signatures have been gathered statewide toward the goal of 100,000. A total of 63,000 valid signatures would put the measure on the ballot this November.

• In Kootenai County, 2,497 valid signatures have been collected.

• Eight of 18 required districts have qualified, including three in North Idaho.

• Coeur d’Alene’s District 4 needs just 393 more signatures to qualify. 

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., citizens can sign the petition at the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber, 105 N. First St.

Yes, it’s going to be dang cold out tomorrow, but imagine the deep freeze that awaits our state if citizen initiatives like this one are blasted into oblivion.

Find out more and lend your support: openprimariesid.org