By ROBERT S. MERRILL
Voters in Franklin and other counties in the state will have to declare a political party affiliation by next month in order to vote for Republican candidates in the upcoming primary election.
Electors can declare themselves to not be affiliated with any recognized political party, but that will preclude them from being able to vote Republican in primary elections. But any registered voter can cast ballots for non-partisan issues, according to Camille Larsen, Franklin County elections clerk.
“The Franklin County Clerk’s Office has been busy sending out the Idaho Political Party Affiliation Declaration Forms to all registered voters in the county. Some forms have been returned ‘not deliverable.’ Those who are registered voters and have not received the form, need to go to the Franklin County Clerk’s Office before March 9 and complete the form,” said Larsen.
“If you are not a registered voter and would like to register, please come to the Clerk’s office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and complete the registration form. If you choose not to complete the form, you will be automatically designated as an ‘unaffiliated’ voter.”
Larsen said the Idaho Democratic Party will allow unaffiliated or electors registered with a different political party to vote for Democratic candidates. However, the Idaho Republican Party has decided to only allow those affiliated with the Republican Party to vote for the Republican candidates, she said.
“In the past the voter has selected his/her party at the voting booth by choosing to only vote the green or blue paper on the ballot. Now the choice is made prior to election day, Larsen added.
“The purpose of primary elections in the State of Idaho is to allow members of a recognized political party to select that party’s nominees to go on the general election ballot. Primary elections often are referred to as ‘party primaries.’”
As a result of a federal court decision in Idaho, Republican Party v. Ysursa, the 2011 Idaho Legislature passed House Bill 351 implementing a closed primary system. Persons who are not members of a party may not participate in the selection of that party’s nominees, according to information supplied to The Citizen. However, Idaho law does allow the political parties the option of opening their primary elections to “unaffiliated” voters and members of other political parties if they so choose, according to the information.
At this coming May primary election, only registered Republicans may vote for Republican candidates. But any qualified voter may vote Democratic.
Larsen said elections for nonpartisan issues scheduled to be held in conjunction with primaries, such as judicial elections, bond or levy elections, or possibly state or local question elections are open to all registered voters who are entitled to vote on nonpartisan issues during primaries.
“Party registration requirements have no effect on general election procedures. At general elections, all voters receive exactly the same ballot and may vote for any candidate whose name appears on it, without regard to the political affiliation.”
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