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Idaho organizers secure enough signatures for an open primaries initiative. What’s next?

Idahoans for Open Primaries volunteers begin chanting, “Let us vote,” after delivering the final box of signatures to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office at the Capitol on Tuesday. They said they gathered 97,000 signatures for an initiative to implement open primaries. | Darin Oswald, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — In dozens of boxes, organizers with the Idahoans for Open Primaries submitted nearly 75,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday, surmounting the sizable hurdle of collecting verified signatures from across the state.
It was the last step in a monthslong process to ask voters whether Idaho should end its closed primary system and implement ranked-choice voting.
The measure would prohibit closed party primaries and instead implement a primary system open to all voters that would send the top four vote-getters, regardless of party, to the November ballot. In Idaho, only registered Republicans can vote in the May GOP primaries. Those elections often determine the winner in a red state where two-thirds of voters register as Republican.
The initiative would also implement ranked-choice voting in the general election, allowing voters to rank their preferred candidates in order. Candidates with negligible first-choice support would be eliminated, and their supporters’ votes would shift to their second-choice picks until two candidates remain, after which the candidate with the most votes would win.
One of the lead organizers of the initiative, Luke Mayville, said the coalition plans to hold town halls, knock on doors and speak to voters ahead of the November election to explain the initiative.
“We have found that as soon as voters learn about this initiative, they like it, because most voters believe that you shouldn’t be forced to join a political party just to exercise your right to vote,” he told the Idaho Statesman by phone.

Idahoans for Open Primaries volunteers stand with boxes from every county in Idaho filled with signatures to deliver to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office at the Capitol on Tuesday. | Darin Oswald, Idaho Statesman
Idaho law requires voter initiative drivers to garner signatures from 6% of the Idaho voters registered at the last election, as well as 6% of registered voters in at least 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.
The coalition turned in more than 97,000 signatures to county clerks around the state in May. Clerks verified close to 80% of those signatures, which eclipsed the number of signatures needed to meet the minimum threshold, one of the lead organizers, Luke Mayville, told the Idaho Statesman by phone.
Mayville expects the secretary of state’s review to take one to two weeks. If the signatures are approved, the petition would put the measure to a majority vote in November. The Secretary of State’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Idahoans for Open Primaries volunteers deliver boxes filled with signatures to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office at the Capitol on Tuesday. If approved in the coming weeks, the initiative to implement open primaries and ranked-choice voting will be on the November ballot. | Darin Oswald, Idaho Statesman
The coalition’s efforts have prominent opponents, including the state Republican Party, Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador and other Republican leaders. Dorothy Moon, who chairs the state Republican Party, has charged that the initiative would “confuse the electoral process” and has called the initiative “insidious.”
“This initiative is a pernicious plot to take away your ability to vote for conservative lawmakers,” Moon said.
Mayville told the Statesman the voters organizers have spoken with understand that the measure aims to give “every Idaho voter the right to participate in our most important elections.”
“There are powerful party insiders and special interest groups in our state who oppose this initiative because they know that it will give power to ordinary voters to choose their own leaders,” Mayville said. “These special interest groups want to hand-pick our leaders themselves, and they understand that the closed primary system allows them to do that.”
The post Idaho organizers secure enough signatures for an open primaries initiative. What’s next? appeared first on East Idaho News.

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