BSU discussion goes into concept of primary entering vote

Recently, some Idaho residents called on Democrats and Independents to cross paths and vote in the upcoming Republican primary in a bid to oust far-right candidates.

BOISE, Idaho- This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

Recently, some Idaho residents called on Democrats and Independents to cross paths and vote in the upcoming Republican primary in a bid to oust far-right candidates. Idaho is a reliable red state, which means whoever wins the Republican primary in May is the favorite in the November election.

The GOP primary, to be held in May, is a closed election, meaning only registered Republicans can vote, so anyone walking through would have to register as a Republican. Democrats and independents should not vote for the GOP, argued David Adler, president of the Alturas Institute. The institute is an Idaho Falls-based nonprofit organization that focuses on advancing American democracy.

Adler spoke at Boise State University for a City Club of Boise program Wednesday night about the upcoming primary.

“I understand the fear factor,” Adler said. “The idea that Democrats are going through is the wrong strategy and a bad bet.”

New legislation was introduced this month that would push back the deadline for unaffiliated voters to change their party’s registration. Currently, Republicans and Democrats have until March 11 to change their registration, but unaffiliated voters have until Election Day.

The bill also proposes changing the day to March 11 for unaffiliated voters.

The leaders of the two political parties have come out against the idea of ​​a cross-vote. Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna said elections are not won by playing the system, and House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel said the move would ultimately hurt the Party Democrat and reduce the number of registrations.

“Frankly, if you really care about the battle for the ‘soul of the Republican Party,’ you wouldn’t be advocating for non-Republicans to infiltrate our party and skew the results,” Luna wrote in November in a guest op-ed. from Idaho Press. “You have to get involved in the political process. It means rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work of working for the candidate of your choice.

For Adler, the tactic is flawed because moderate Republicans in the Gem State took similar positions and voted similarly on issues as those on the far right in the party.

One example, he said, is the “Add the Words” movement to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Idaho’s human rights law.

The change has been introduced in the Legislature almost every year for the past 16 years; the only time he got a full hearing, he died on a party line vote.

The Republican Party is the preeminent party in the state and giving the party more votes will strengthen its standing statewide, Adler said.

As of this month, 53.6% of all registered voters in the state were Republicans and only 13.6% were Democrats; 31.3% were unaffiliated, according to records maintained by the office of the Idaho secretary of state.

Moreover, the simple question remains whether the move is necessary.

Current Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin is running for governor. Current Gov. Brad Little has not announced he is running for re-election but has raised more than $1 million for his campaign, according to campaign finance reports.

“Governor. Little is unlikely to have trouble shipping Janice McGeachin,” Adler said.

And otherwise? “It’s their choice,” Adler said. “(If) the politicians under a McGeachin governorship…turn out to turn their stomachs…wouldn’t voters be like, ‘Maybe I don’t want to be part of this party that would elect this candidate.’

If the Democrats cross paths, there will be no “day of atonement,” Adler said.

Adler has taught at all three universities in Idaho and his writings have been cited by entities including the United States Supreme Court, according to the Alturas Institute.

The election hasn’t happened yet, so anything can happen, but political party affiliation can become very entrenched.

“The problem with party identification is that it becomes very tied to someone’s identity,” said Boise State University researcher Matthew May.

Cross-voting can be sincere or strategic, according to May. Sincere cross-voters believe the other side is likely to win and vote for the candidate they would prefer. Strategic cross voters vote for the candidate they think their party would have an easier time beating.

“If you’re in a dominant one-party state like Idaho, where once you get through the primary, chances are you know which way the general election is going to go, then the primary election becomes more or less where you have to influence the outcome of the general election,” May said.

Republicans have dominated the state for decades, so it may be hard for many to imagine that changing.

However, by the mid-1990s, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico were more Republican. Luna, the Republican president, recently told Politico that each of the states was then growing rapidly with Republican infighting, similar to the current situation in Idaho. Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico are now blue states.

These three states are examples of how urbanized areas tend to turn bluer over time, May said.

“We’re kind of seeing that a bit in Idaho with Ada County,” May said. “Boise is generally more Democratic as you move further west into Ada County, towards Meridian, Eagle and Star, it’s generally redder. … Whether or not that happens at a pace that may necessarily change that culture here in Idaho, it’s a little early to tell.

Republican infighting will likely be part of this year’s election. In particular, McGeachin and Little faced off twice during 2021 because McGeachin signed executive orders while Little was out of state which he later rescinded.

Last fall, former President Donald Trump endorsed McGeachin.

At Wednesday’s seminar, City Club of Boise Treasurer Darwin Roy argued that Democrats could vote with their party in the fall after voting for the moderate GOP primary candidate.

“It doesn’t hurt their vote in the fall,” Roy said. “We know Republicans are ready to vote for Janice McGeachin…against a very good Democratic candidate.”

In the long run, Adler said if McGeachin were elected, voters would associate her candidacy with the Republican Party.

As Republican Party chairman, Luna said Friday he was comfortable with her on the ballot.

“Janice McGeachin is a lifelong Republican. … If the Republicans choose her as their candidate, she will be the next governor. And it will be the Republican Party that decides if that’s what we want as a candidate,” Luna said. “We don’t need the Democrats trying to step in and save us from ourselves.”

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press. Read more on

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