This is the last column before the May 20 primary election. And like the Facebook relationship status says, “it’s complicated.”
Depending on which party’s ballot you get, it could include statewide offices such as Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General; district offices such as House representative and state Senator; and county races such as county commissioner. Primary elections pick the top vote-getter from each party – Democrat, Republican, and, this year, even Constitutional in some districts – who will then face members of opposing parties in November.
Primary elections are particularly important in Idaho because, often, the election is actually over in May because nobody from the opposing party files to run. If there’s nobody to run against in November, whomever wins the primary wins the election. In Kuna’s District 22, for example, no Democrats are running, so whoever wins the primary for Senate wins the election.
In fact, in the other two legislative races in District 22, the election is already over – nobody has signed up in either party to run against the incumbent representatives. So there won’t even be a primary for those positions.
In addition, May elections include regional party offices such as precinct committeeman (which is called that even when a woman holds the office). Those may sound trivial, but they’re actually important. Precinct committeemen vote on things such as the party platform, and help pick a new legislator should one of the legislators in their district leave office early. (They do this by deciding on a list of three names to present to the Governor, who then chooses the new legislator – who may or may not be the first name on the list, or even on the list at all.) The party district chairman is also elected from among the ranks of the precinct committeemen for that district, and the district chairs help the county party make decisions.
It used to be that anybody could get any party’s primary ballot. In the past few years, though, people have had to “affiliate” with the Republican party – in other words, register as a Republican, which then becomes a matter of public record – to be able to vote in the Republican primary. So far, other parties continue to let anybody vote in their primaries, when they have them.
So, how can you vote in this year’s Republican primary? 1. By already being registered as a Republican. 2. By being “unaffiliated” – that is, not registered with any political party – and then “affiliating” at your polling place by signing a form. 3. By being unregistered, and both registering to vote and affiliating at your polling place.
If you’re already affiliated as a Democrat or any other political party, you’re out of luck; it’s too late to change for the primary.
Also, if you live inside the boundary of the Kuna School District (which, by the way, includes part of Canyon County), you can vote on the Kuna school levy. Note that you can vote for the levy regardless of which party you’re affiliated with, and even if you’re not affiliated with a party at all. So you can vote in the levy election no matter whether you vote in the rest of the primary election.
Busy on May 20? You have until May 14 to request an absentee ballot, which has to be returned by 8 pm on May 20. Or, you can go to the Ada County elections office at 400 N. Benjamin in Boise and vote early from April 28 through May 16, between 8 to 5 on weekdays and 10 to 4 on Saturday, May 10.