Idaho GOP faces early deadline for caucus

Idaho votes logoThe Idaho primary election isn’t until May and there are no looming deadlines, the Idaho Democratic presidential caucus is two days later, so no pending deadlines there, but those wishing to participate in the Republican presidential caucus, which takes place on Saturday, March 2, do have a deadline looming; they must register and/or affiliate as a Republican by December 31, a Sunday, in order to participate. Those going to their county clerk’s office have an even earlier deadline of 5 p.m. Friday, December 29. Under GOP rules, caucus participants cannot register or affiliate at the site on the day of the caucus.

Voters whose registrations and affiliations are current are not affected by the deadlines.

The Idaho GOP attempted to make the December deadline, without same-day registration or affiliation, valid for both their caucus and the Idaho primary election, when Idahoans will vote for state and local offices and initiatives, but Idaho Secretary of State said last month he could not enforce such deadline because it is a party, not a state, rule.

The last day to affiliate or change affiliation, online, by mail or in person, is 25 days before the date of an Idaho election. This year’s primary is being held Tuesday, May 21, so the registration/affiliation deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, March 15. But voters who miss the deadline can register at their polling site if they have with them the proper documentation or sign a personal identification affidavit.

Necessary documentation includes valid photo ID and approved proof of residence.

Unlike regular elections, party caucuses are run by the individual parties, and not the state, and the parties set and enforce the rules.

This year’s Republican presidential caucus, according to party chair Dorothy Moon, will be in-person only, with at least one caucus site open in each county and no provisions made for absentee participation, active-duty military personnel serving out of state, missionaries serving out of state, the ill, homebound or handicap or those who have to work.

Both the democratic caucus and state primary allow absentee participation.

For state-run elections, Idaho recognizes four political parties eligible to hold primaries; Republican, Democrat, Constitution and Libertarian. These four, plus “unaffiliated” are the choices for party affiliation.

In the state primary, only those affiliated with the party can vote the GOP ballot, meaning, in a state such as Idaho, that only Republicans will be making the final decisions on many of the state and local offices on the ballot, as many state and county seats are sought solely by Republicans and so are uncontested in the November general election. The Democratic primary is open to all voters regardless of party affiliation.

To check on your status as a voter in Idaho, to register, declare party affiliation or to learn more, visit your local county clerk’s office, 6452 Kootenai Street in Boundary County, or visit https://voteidaho.gov.

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