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Idahoans in support of open primary elections deliver thousands of votes to Secretary of State

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 02, 2024

BOISE, Idhao — Tens of thousands of signatures were delivered to the office of the Secretary of State at the Idaho State Capitol in support of open primaries and ranked-choice voting.

  • Advocates with Idahoans for Open Primaries turned in 97,535 signatures on July 2 in order to get the initiative on the ballot for the November election.
  • Once the issue is on the ballot, Idahoans can vote on whether or not they support open primary elections.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

"Vote yes on open primaries!" cheers Karole Honas to a crowd of people outside the state capitol.

Tens of thousands of signatures from across the state of Idaho are making their way up the statehouse steps to the Secretary of State's office. These boxes, filled with petitions signed by supporters for open primaries and ranked-choice voting in Idaho, are fighting to get the initiatives on the November ballot.

RELATED: Idahoans for Open Primaries says it has enough signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.

"I think the closed primary system has a couple of negative effects. One of them is that it encourages people running for office to focus on just activating their base," says Hyrum Erickson, a Republican precinct committeeman.

Idaho currently has closed primaries, meaning political parties can restrict access during primary elections to allow only those registered with their party. That excludes over 250,000 voters registered as independent. The citizen-led group, Idahoans for Open Primaries, must get over 63,000 voter signatures for the initiatives to make it on the November ballot.

"We got all our signatures in as required by law, what we had to do to get this on the ballot, and we’re having a little celebration for the fact that we did it," says Karole Honas, a volunteer for Idahoans for Open Primaries.

We reached out to the Attorney General's office, and they declined to comment. However, Idaho News 6 previously reported that Attorney General Labrador outlined in a letter to the Secretary of State that he intends to sue if the initiative makes it through the final steps.

Supporters of the Open Primary initiative say it's about giving power to all voters.

"This is how it used to be," says Honas. "We all worked together for what was 'for the best,' not for the party. We worked for what was for Idaho. That's what I saw on the steps today — a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life saying this is going to be better for Idaho."