Idaho Dems call voting billboards "misleading"

Posted at 12:17 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 00:22:11-05

“Misleading and inaccurate,” is how the Idaho Democratic Party describes at least three billboards advertising March 8th, 2016 presidential primary elections.

Two political parties are holding primaries on that date, the Republicans and the Constitutional party.

Democratic leadership complains the message neglects to inform voting Idahoans of the Democratic Caucus, which will be held on March 22nd.

“As your office is aware, this election is in fact not a full primary election,” wrote Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Bert Marley to Secretary of State Lawerence Denney.  “Therefore, your advertising campaign is misleading and inaccurate and likely to cause much confusion for voters seeking to participate in the primary or those voters who associate with any other parties.”

Denney, a Republican, is the official in charge of the website.

The website includes information for the Republican Primary and Democratic Caucus. However, Democrats argue the failure to include the caucus date on the billboards could confuse and delay the March 8 primaries.

“Voters seeking to vote in the Constitution or Republican party primaries are likely to be delayed because of confusion by voters and poll workers who mistakenly believe they can vote for a Democratic candidate on March 8th. There are more than 200,000 Idaho voters who consistently do not vote for Constitution or Republican Party candidates. That is a full 30 percent of Idaho voters who might be confused by your advertising campaign. These voters non-Constitutional or non-Republican party members may mistakenly cast a ballot in those parties’ primary.

The Idaho Democratic Party sent the following five suggestions of how to fix the perceived issue:

1) Your office provide details as to the location of each billboards currently displaying the misleading and inaccurate information

2) Your office provide details as to all other advertising currently running or planned in the future displaying the misleading and inaccurate information

3) Revise the billboard and all other advertising content to clearly state “ONLY the Republican and Constitution Parties will hold presidential primaries on March 8”;

4) Add to the billboard and all other advertising content “the Idaho Democratic Party will hold statewide county caucuses on March 22” and include the link to the Idaho Democratic Party website that invites everyone to participate (as is currently the status of the web site); and

5) No billboard or other advertising content with the corrected information be removed or otherwise changed until after the Democratic Party statewide county caucuses on March 22nd.

The Idaho Democratic Party ended the letter with the expectation of hearing back from Denney by Monday, February 15th but has not heard anything back about the complaint.