A primer on the GOP caucus

Idaho GOP CaucusUPDATE: Dave Wenk said he spoke to officials in the State GOP today and learned that votes for those candidates who have withdrawn from the race and who paid their $50,000 Idaho filing fee will be counted, so you can vote for Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswami. He also learned that personnel working and volunteering at the caucus, to include coordinators and captains, are not authorized or allowed to contact or respond to media requests for local caucus results, though they have not determined how release will be made. This article has been updated to reflect the new “guidance.”

The Idaho GOP Caucus takes place at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 2, not just in Boundary County, but simultaneously in every county in the state, 11 a.m. for those counties in the Pacific time zone, noon for those on Mountain time, to choose the allocation for the votes of the state’s 32 delegates to the 2024 Republican National Convention taking place in Milwaukee in July.

In Boundary County, everything takes place under the direction of Caucus Coordinator Caleb Davis, chair of the Boundary County Republican Central Committee, at the Boundary County Middle School, where voters from all six Boundary County voting precincts will gather to cast their vote in one race only, to select the Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential race. And while the field of candidates started out large, only three candidates remain on the Idaho ballot; front runner Donald J. Trump, Nikki Haley and relatively unknown Ryan Binkley.

Another piece of advice from Dave; everyone will get two stamps on the back of your hand, both mandatory. One gets you inside, the other gets you a ballot. More on that soon. For now, Dave says to be aware that the ink used is water soluble and comes off easy, so if nature calls, try to wait until you did what you came to do. If you can’t, be real careful or postpone washing until you’ve cast your ballot. No stamp, no vote.

All voting will be done in one round and all will be in person at the Middle School, and with but one exception, all by Republicans who were registered on or before December 31, 2023. And with but two exceptions, admission to the caucus will be restricted solely to Republicans who were registered on or before December 31, 2023. The exception to both admission and voting is for those whose 18th birthday falls between January 1 and March 2 who registered for the first time on or after their birthday, the exception for admission is for minor children accompanying their registered Republican parents.

That may seem a bit stringent for the party demanding poll watchers and almost unrestricted access to the polls in the 2020 election, but these are the rules handed down statewide by the Idaho GOP. You can read the full rules here.

There will be no reporters allowed except those meeting admission criteria, no cameras, no filming. And that brings us to the first of the requisite two hand stamps.

Later this month, cards will be sent to all Boundary County Republicans properly registered. Bring that card with you to the caucus to expedite sign-in. Doors will open at 11 a.m., and before admission, attendees will line up by precinct to show their card or proof of registration, identification a required to vote in Idaho, and to sign the appropriate poll book. Once that’s complete, attendees will get a red stamp on the back of their hand granting them access.

At 12:30 p.m., doors will close and the caucus will begin. Opening ceremonies will include recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation, tabulators will be appointed and final preparations made for voting and qualified voters showing the red admission stamp will receive a second stamp, this one black, for their ballot and access to the polling station.

Once voters have cast their ballot, they are free to leave or stay to hear the results, expected to be announced at about 2 p.m. barring unforeseen delays.

While this is a new procedure seldom used, Wenk said he expects the Boundary County Caucus to go smoothly.

“It’s new to us, but we have a strong Republican Central Committee about 20 excellent volunteers who have been working hard to make sure they know how this will work and what to expect,” he said. “We’ve been through some intense training and well, and we have more training coming up. We’ll be ready!”

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